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Managing Stress and Promoting Resilience for Parents of Children With IDD

Research Summary


Stress can affect parents’ health and ability to successfully meet the needs of their children. This can be especially true for parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who face unique circumstances. Researchers recently conducted a systematic review of research article databases to reveal key factors practitioners can use to support resilience in parents of children with IDD.

Key Findings

This literature review revealed three key factors when it comes to parental resilience:

  • Coping style: the most effective strategy for parents to cope with stress is a problem-focused approach, in which internal and external demands are altered to help prevent stressful situations recurring.
  • Optimism: maintaining a positive outlook helps parents maintain the personal resources needed to effectively manage stress when raising a child with I/DD.
  • Social Support: family, friends, support groups, and specialists can support parents during stressful times or situations and help to alleviate the physical and emotional stress can come with parenting.

Put It Into Practice

Tips and tools to help you apply best practices at work.

  • Using a questionnaire, assess and identify how parents cope with stress, what type of social support they have, and what level of optimism they have about current and future situations.
  • Provide parents with skill training and educational materials based on the types of supports they need.
  • Make suggestions or referrals to support groups and help parents integrate these natural supports into daily routines to reduce stress.
  • Highlight the parents’ strengths and provide them with a sense of hope for the future.
  • Focus on the parents’ own interpretation of their situation and help normalize their experience.

Read “How To Measure Resilience With These 8 Resilience Scales” to learn more about assessing resilience.

More About This Research

Researchers conducted a comprehensive review of three major online databases: CINAHL, PubMed, and PsycINFO. Gathering peer-reviewed, relevant quantitative and qualitative studies, they analyzed previous findings related to parenting stress, IDD, resilience, optimism, coping style, positive emotions, and social supports to identify common factors that support parental resilience and help them to overcome stress.

Learn More

Peer, J.W & Hillman, S.B. (2014). Stress and Resilience for Parents of Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A Review of Key Factors and Recommendations for Practitioners. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 11 (2), 92-98.