Calming the Chaos: Practicing Distress Tolerance Skills for Parents and Teens

Constant news updates, closures, cancellations, social distancing, and all the unknown we are currently dealing with has many of us feeling overwhelmed and not at all in control. As parents, you are working hard to create normalcy and structure for your kids among this chaos, while also managing your own anxieties. In my sessions, I often tell my clients the problems they cannot change or control, are the most frustrating ones. I also tell my clients that when they are faced with these kinds of problems, this is the most important time for them to use the coping skills we practice. When we focus on coping, we shift our thoughts from, “This is so unfair. I can’t fix this.” to, “I’m worried and stressed, so what can I do to feel better right now?” While asking myself this question, I was reminded of a DBT skill which pointedly uses the acronym “ACCEPTS” to remind us of strategies we can do to decrease our feelings of distress. I have created my own “refrigerator sheet" version of the ACCEPTS strategies below geared specifically towards parents and teens during this time. Hopefully, this provides an easy to use, quick reminder of some things we CAN do to cope when life gets just a tad crazy.

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