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Parenting Tool Box: Creating Connection in Moments of Stress

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

Let’s start by creating some awareness around how you are handling situations when things get heated with your child. 

Some key take-aways:

1. Stop-Breathe-Be (University of Pennsylvania, Penn Program for Mindfulness)


Come to a complete and full stop. Do this deliberately. Make it full and complete. Don’t move on to the next step until you have felt your body stop fully. Wait for that stop, and take long enough to feel it from the inside. 


Bring all of your attention to the breath. Try using either one, two or three breaths. Don’t just notice the breath. Enter it fully, with all of your attention. 


At the end of the breath, rest in the awareness of stillness for a moment. Just be there. Then open your eyes. Let any stillness, silence or relaxation that you found radiate out and saturate your environment. Allow that sense of the present moment, and its quiet center, to stay.

When a person becomes angry or fearful, the body goes into an automatic response of fight, flight or freeze but we can rewire the brain so instead we push pause. Breathing gives the body the opportunity to change how it is responding.

2. Tips to improve that connection:

  • Don’t react while you are angry. Instead, try taking a physical break from the situation. It is ok to tell your child, “I need a 3-minute break and then I will come back to this conversation.”

  • Put the situation in perspective. Remember most of the time, this behavior is not an emergency or the end of the world. Ok so your son just told you ‘no’ when you asked him to turn off the tv and clean up his room, but he was also in the middle of watching his favorite program and he had no warning or notice for the transition. How would you feel if someone interrupted something you enjoyed without any warning? Try to consider the bigger picture. 

  • Become aware of your own triggers. What are the things that set you off as a parent? Create a plan for how you want to react in the future and learn how to regulate your own emotions.   

  • Take care of yourself. Coming up with a healthy self-care plan can go a long way in helping you to be in a better frame of mind throughout the day so that you have more patience when your kids act up.

3. Some tools to foster connection with your child:

  • Laugh with your child everyday; be silly, goofy, playful with your child.

  • One-on-one time with each child. Let the child teach you something. 

  • Respond to bids for connection.

  • Create connection during your routines.

You don’t have to figure this all out alone.

You may have resources already available to you like other parents, friends, mom groups, church groups, or within your child’s school system. If you or your child is struggling and you don’t know how to help, you may want to consider talking to a professional counselor. We work with children, teens and their families every day on things just like this.

If you or someone you know could benefit from talking to one of our licensed therapists and psychologists, please call us at 484-746-3112. You can also check us out at

It is our mission to help the families in our community grow, connect and heal. We are a non-profit organization and we provide financial assistance to families who otherwise cannot afford counseling.

In order to keep our doors open and to continue to provide families with mental health treatment, we rely on donations from generous donors. Please consider donating to our mission, no matter how much or how little, every single dollar helps. In addition to providing clinical services, we also want to keep doing educational seminars and workshops like the this one. We hope you enjoyed this conversation and were able to take away at least one thing that will benefit you or your family. If so, please consider making a donation.

As part of our year-end giving campaign, Project Peace of Mind, we are offering a printable Pleasant Advent Calendar which is designed to help foster connection in families and create a source of self-care for parents. You can claim yours here.

Information for this presentation was retrieved from various parenting and relationship experts and researchers such as John Gottman, Laura Markham, and Jennifer Wilke-Deaton. Check out these websites for more information:;; and

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