Parent helping child cope positively
Health, Parenting

Learning to Cope with Uncertainty

September 1, 2020

Learning Years: Dealing with life’s stressors takes effort and practice

Some people are natural risk-takers who are nimble and can pivot when encountering the unexpected. None of them are reading this article. For the rest of us, learning to cope with uncertainty and risk takes effort and practice. Since these two irritants will be around for a while, we should learn to adjust – if not for ourselves then for our children who are watching and learning. 

Stress tends to spread around like, well, a virus. When parents are anxious, kids feel it and may react to it with irritation, whining, clinginess, and bad behavior. This, in turn, creates more stress and turmoil, which is particularly tricky in close quarters all day, every day. Adults can lead by example, and in so doing can reduce the backlash of parental stress and provide a live example of stress management. 

Tactics for managing the emotional load of risk and uncertainty:

Be Mindful and Aware

Make a Plan for Coping

Change your Mindset

Positive Behavioral Responses

The above recommendations don’t come naturally to the majority of people. However, with a will to cope positively, it is possible to grow from this experience. We can recognize our own strength and adaptability in the face of risk and uncertainty. And better yet, we can provide a model of this critical life skill to our children. 

From this point of view, our unwelcome invaders may still be a drag, but they do not have to devastate us. And while we may never develop immunity to COVID, we can learn how powerful we are when faced with adversity. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? 


Dr. Pat BlackwellDr. Pat Blackwell is a licensed psychologist who has worked with families for over 30 years. See her website for more information and her blog

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