Helping Kids Manage Stress

By Dr. Sarah Caverly, Psy.D., LPC, NCC – Ambler Counseling Center

Whether you have a 2-year-old or a 12-year-old, helping kids manage their stress and emotions isn’t easy. As parents, we often worry about saying the right or wrong thing when our kids are upset or not knowing how to bring up difficult topics with our children. Rather than focusing on what to say or not say, one of the best ways that we can help our children learn to cope with stressors and big emotions is by having the tools to manage our own emotions. That’s because when we deal with our own emotions in a healthy way, we model that behavior for our kids, and they learn how to deal with their own emotions better.

Sounds simple enough, right? Of course, it’s not usually that easy, because we may not have had our own healthy models to learn from growing up and when kids have meltdowns, it can really trigger a lot of negative emotions! With practice though, we can learn ways to manage these reactions. So the next time you’re in the middle of an emotional minefield, try practicing some of these skills:

  • Count to 10
  • Take a few deep breaths. This refers to something called diaphragmatic breathing, so it’s not what we usually think of when we say we’re taking deep breaths. Think about inhaling as if you’re blowing up a balloon, then exhale slowly and imagine the balloon deflating. It takes some practice, but it works!
  • Take a break for a few minutes in another room. This requires practicing open communication with our kids and labeling how we’re feeling without labeling them as “bad,” so saying something like “I’m feeling really frustrated right now, I’m going to another room for a few minutes to calm down and then I’ll be back.”

While these may seem like small things to do, they can make a big difference. In fact, research suggests that when parents model healthy ways to deal with emotions, children learn that it’s okay to express what they feel, rather than stuff it down. That means that instead of us trying to think of how to bring up difficult topics with our kids, they’ll be more open to coming to us on their own to talk about the tough stuff because they know it’s okay to do so.

If you or your child could use some support in navigating the stressors of life, don’t hesitate to reach out to Ambler Counseling Center for more information! We are happy to help support individuals, parents, couples, and families be linked with an appropriate support for their needs (whether it is with us or another provider).

Feel free to check out Instagram @amblercounseling, our Tik Tok @amblercounselingcenter, and our own blog posts at to keep updated on some of the themes we see in the community as well as helpful tips!


Frankel, et al. (2012); Eisenberg, Fabes, & Murphy (1996); Power (2009)

About the Author

Ambler Counseling Center

Dr. Sarah Caverly received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) from the APA- accredited Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Prior to her doctoral training she was a School Counselor, working with children and adolescents on the Autism Spectrum. In addition to working with individuals on the Autism Spectrum, her clinical experience includes the treatment and assessment of children, adolescents, and adults with depression and mood disorders, anxiety- based disorders, trauma, substance use, ADHD, and learning disorders. Dr. Caverly also has specific interests in the areas of maternal health and wellness, grief, infertility, and parenting. She takes a whole-person approach in working with clients, drawing from a variety of treatment modalities, and focusing on creating an empathetic, client-centered therapeutic relationship. She lives in Lansdale with her husband, young son, and dog, and enjoys running and cooking.