I Love My Kids, But They Frustrate Me

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated April 26, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

As with many types of relationships, being a parent may have ups and downs. Going from the awe of holding your newborn in your arms for the first time to dealing with loud crying or a toddler tantrum can feel jarring. However, you're not alone. Many parents experience parental burnout, and there are ways to get help. 

A woman is sitting on a couch with two children; she is kissing one on his head, and the other is leaning on her, lying down.

Parenthood can be challenging. Therapy can help

8 ways to manage parental burnout

It is possible to both love your children and be frustrated by them. Feeling anger towards your children does not mean you love them any less. 

If you're feeling frazzled by your children's behavior (and maybe even thinking, “My kids are driving me crazy!”), there are a few parenting tips to try that may support you in dealing with parental burnout in a healthy way. 

1. Meet guilt or frustration with compassion

Feeling frustrated by how your children behave can be a common experience among parents, although it might not be the aspect of parenting that makes it onto social media feeds. If you experience anger followed by guilt for not being more patient, consider leaning into your guilt with compassion and empathy for yourself. 

Consider repeating the following affirmations to remind yourself that your feelings aren't inherently "bad:"

  • "I am human; I can only do so much."
  • "I am doing my best, and I am proud of myself."
  • "It's okay to feel guilt."
  • "It's okay to feel stressed or frustrated with my children."
  • "I make mistakes sometimes and choose to do better in the future." 
  • "I love my children, and I love myself."
  • "I deserve to care for myself, too." 

2. Break your routine or implement one

While aiming to change how your children act may not always work, some tactics could positively impact their behavior and your feelings. Adjusting the way you've set up your routine is one tactic that may improve both areas. 

For example, if you have your family on a strict routine that rarely varies, you may choose to mix things up occasionally. You might find it refreshing to your mental state, and your kids' behavior could improve if you're able to change how your day functions or where you spend time. 

On the other hand, if you primarily operate without a routine, implementing one could benefit your family dynamic. If your children have a more predictable structure to trust, you might find that it has a calming effect on them and you.

3. Shift your response 

There are times when shifting your focus may be able to help you get through a difficult parenting situation. Studies show that letting go of a desire to control others may cause you to feel more joy in many areas of your life, including parenting.  

Do your best to support your children and teach them skills for handling different situations. Additionally, know that you may not be able to control the way they behave or react to things.  

Focusing on your frustration with their behavior and wishing it were different may seem unproductive or lead to a sense of powerlessness. You can focus instead on your own response to the situation and mentor your children by demonstrating positive behaviors and being a role model. 

iStock/Ivan Pantic

4. Don’t forget about self-care 

Self-care can be quite helpful when you are frustrated or burnt out as a parent. While it may seem challenging to find alone time when you are taking care of kids, even carving out a few minutes here and there for an adult "time out" could help you reset your emotional clock.

When your children are down for a nap, occupied with an activity, or supervised by your partner or another caregiver, see if you can find some time to go into your room, close the door, and take some deep breaths in quiet. Studies show that ten minutes of meditation per day can benefit you in the long run. You can also practice mindfulness or meditation on the go.  

Other ways to practice self-care may include reading a few pages of a favorite book, treating yourself to a bite of chocolate, or exercising. At times, taking a break may refresh you, so you feel ready to re-enter a frustrating situation with renewed energy or a different perspective.

5. Make time for physical activity

Making time for anything as a parent can be challenging. However, the significant benefits of exercise can outweigh the time investment. To make engaging in physical activity more available, you might even be able to bring your family along with you when you exercise. 

A 2019 study suggests a link between exercise and decreased feelings of frustration and anxiety, and the broader mental health benefits of exercise have often been supported by academic research. 

You might choose to exercise when your children are being cared for at daycare, school, or by your partner. Or you might exercise by taking walks or playing soccer with your family. 

Exercise can benefit the physical and mental health of everyone in your family, including your children. It may also help your family members feel more connected to each other and increase moments of joy between you and your children, which could alleviate stress or frustration. 

6. Find or practice  hobby 

Feeling tied down to the demands of others day in and day out can seem exhausting if you don't have breaks. While it may take some intentionality and planning to fit it into your schedule, finding a hobby that's just for you could be valuable.

For example, a hobby you enjoy could give you the opportunity you need to relax, reset, and come back to your family with a new outlook. It could also help you form new social connections, which may provide emotional support. Studies show that social connection can improve your mental and physical health

Another study found that levels of cortisol—common hormonal markers of stress—in participants were reduced by 75% after they spent time making art. A creative hobby may have measurable positive impacts on your mental and emotional well-being.

Parenthood can be challenging. Therapy can help

7. Form connections with other parents

According to the Center for the Study of Social Policy, supportive social connections in the lives of parents are associated with "positive parental mood, positive perceptions of and responsiveness to one's children, parental satisfaction, well-being, a sense of competence, and lower levels of anger, anxiety, and depression." 

Forming a social network of other parents who understand and discuss the frustrations and joys of parenting can have a significant positive impact on your perspective. Other parents may provide emotional support, a listening ear, and advice.

Making friends with your neighbors or joining a local parent's group can be great ways to find connections like these. You might also join parenting classes or attend your child's school’s parent board. 

8. Seek the support of a therapist

Family life can be hard work, and it can be normal to experience frustration with your kids. If you’re wondering, “How does anyone with kids stay sane?” speaking with a therapist might be beneficial. The guidance of a trained counselor may help you learn to manage the complicated emotions that might arise when you are stressed as a result of parenting demands.

A therapist can help you discover tools and strategies to handle frustrating situations in a healthy way. In addition, if you're experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions that are related to or exacerbated by your role as a parent, a therapist may have expertise in supporting people with those conditions. 

Many busy parents find online therapy a valuable option for mental health treatment that fits more easily into their schedules. Through online therapy, you can connect with a therapist who is a good fit for you personally, based on your answers to a questionnaire. Once you are matched with a therapist, you can communicate with them via phone, video, or chat. 

Research suggests that virtual therapy can provide similar benefits to in-person sessions. Additionally, therapy online is often a practical option for busy parents. Other studies demonstrate that online therapy is effective for families who experience stress or other interpersonal concerns. 

If you're interested in being matched with a therapist, consider a virtual therapy platform such as BetterHelp. These platforms can offer a vast network of counselors specializing in various areas of support.


Parenting can feel frustrating at times. If you're feeling alone or don't know where to turn, consider trying the tips above. You can also gain professional insight and advice by reaching out to a licensed counselor about your concerns.

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