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6 Ways to Increase Your Patience with Distance Learning

By: Andra Bonior Ph.D.

Six months into the pandemic’s ripple effects across the United States, many families have children at home who have not seen the inside of a school since this all began. To say I am seeing and hearing (and feeling!) exhaustion is an understatement. Juggling multiple roles without a break can be exhausting enough to cause a significant sense of hopelessness, pessimism, and irritability. Here are six tips to keep in mind when navigating this truly unprecedented stressor as a parent. And remember, like any other difficult time in life, it’s important to let yourself start fresh each morning—and go just one day at a time.

1. Remember that this doesn’t have to replicate the in-person school experience.

Yes, your middle-schooler doesn’t get the Bunsen burner this year, and your third-grader’s math lessons may lose a little vigor. But might they also be learning a little more about managing disappointment? Navigating sibling conflict? Helping their community? Cutting their dad’s hair? They may be discovering new things and growing in ways that they never would have had this not happened. And as much as that doesn’t mean that you have to be glad that we are in this situation, it is important to recognize that the deeper life lessons or opportunity for boosts in emotional intelligence that can arise even in the struggle.

2. Reach out for support.

There are millions of parents in your same boat—including plenty juggling the same confusing emails from your very same school, or the same Chromebook glitches hitting your second-grader. Have you thought about how to better build your “village” lately? Who do you rely on for support when it feels like too much? What other parents can you vent or laugh with when you are overwhelmed? Social support can provide a big boost to our mental and physical health and is a very important component of coping. But with the specific demands that are exhausting parents who are juggling multiple roles everywhere, it can be even more of a balm to talk to someone going through what you are.

3. Keep your values in mind.

When you feel overwhelmed by the homework or the technology or your constant juggling act, try to zoom out to the big picture. What is the purpose of any of this? What kind of values do you want to impart to your child? What do you want them to see in you during this time, and what kind of parent do you want to be? How do you want to look back at this time someday? Any given day—or even week—may feel like it’s going all wrong. But when you can keep your eye on a sense of larger purpose about your parenting during this time, when your kids are looking toward you to guide them through uncertainty, it can help you remember what’s important, and not get bogged down by what’s not.

4. Empathy, empathy, empathy.

When we all are feeling frazzled and burnt out, empathy is hard to extend to others—because our own tanks are so empty. But empathy can improve your patience in crucial ways when you’re dealing with the frustrations of online learning. Empathy for the teacher who might be managing her own chaos at home, empathy for your child missing their friends and having to stare at a screen for far longer than you ever would have wanted them to, and empathy for the administrators having to make decisions they could have never anticipated—it’s all justified, and important.

5. Find humor when you can.

I have worked with many people who feel guilty for having moments of levity when their friends are struggling, or who are concerned about wrongly making light of a time that for many people involves life-or-death risk calculations. But humor can be very significant in terms of emotional well-being, and it even can decrease your blood pressure and break tension to help your whole body feel better. When’s the last time you had a deep, belly laugh? And what could you do to get that again? Better yet, finding things that you and your kids can laugh about together, whether it be a TV show you share, a joke-a-day ritual, or letting loose with silly dance moves, can help increase your connection with them as well.

6. Let go of perfectionism.

Adjusting expectations is crucial not only for your perspective on your kid’s schooling but it’s vital for your own role as a parent too. I am working with so many clients who feel like “failures” because they aren’t as patient as they’d like to be with their kids, or they’re not making the perfect healthy meals that they’re seeing on social media, or they’re not having feeling especially bonded with their kids despite all the increased time spent together.

Notice the yardstick you are using to compare yourself to others. And if it is perfectionistic, ask yourself how you can start giving yourself credit just for coping and surviving—the most productive activities of all—during what may be the most challenging episode of your parenting career.

Most Common Reasons for Seeking Help from a Therapist or Counselor


Contrary to the myth that only “crazy people” seek help from a therapist, many individuals and families have discovered the value of working with a mental health professional for various personal and social issues that are causing them severe distress. The following is a list of some of the most common reasons individuals seek help from a therapist or Counselor:

1. Major life events such as an impending divorce or break-up, a financial crisis, serious health issues or accident, dealing with a mid-life crisis, or aging concerns. Utilizing the services of a skilled impartial and nonjudgmental professional can sometimes help individuals or couples find new ways of communicating and resolving the difficulties that they had not previously considered. Understanding that as we get older, it is important to find new ways to find meaning in our lives, whether that means reinventing ourselves with a new career, volunteering, developing a new interest, and meeting new people that are positive and nurturing.

2. Depression: If you find yourself struggling to get out of bed and feel that your life has no meaning, or that the things that used to bring you joy now seem insignificant, it may be time to seek help.

3. Anxiety-related disorders: Feeling nervous or panicky in social situations such as public speaking, fears or phobias such as fear of flying, PTSD from traumatic experiences, and numerous other activities that create extreme stress often improve when an individual receives treatment from a qualified professional.

4. Anger Management: Today we face more demands on our time from work and family, with constant stimulation from technology. Many individuals feel unable to cope with the stress of everyday life and find themselves exploding in anger, often with the people they love the most. Learning healthier ways to communicate and cope with anger can be beneficial to not only the individual seeking help but to their friends and family as well.

5. Parenting concerns: “Failure to launch” young adults; bullying or other problems at school; children who become anti-social and spend excessive periods of time playing video games, watching on-line porn, texting, tweeting or otherwise alienating themselves from their family and friends all are frequent reasons that mental health professionals see frustrated parents in their offices.

6. Addictions: Whether the problem is a common as a desire to quit smoking or as serious as a gambling, alcohol or drug addiction, this category is a very troubling issue that if left untreated can lead to broken marriages, job loss and serious health risk.

7. Grief and Loss: The loss of a spouse, child or other family members, or even a close friend can cause extreme distress and, if not resolved, can lead to Depression. Finding a support group can be helpful as is finding an empathetic therapist who can provide well-thought-out suggestions for honoring the loss of a loved one and methods for coping.

8. Lack of self-esteem: Poor self-image and lack of assertiveness can cause an individual to become socially isolated, leading to difficulties in creating healthy relationships and being left behind in the workplace. Learning how to become more confident and assertive without becoming aggressive can be extremely helpful to young and old alike.

If you are struggling with any of these issues above, or just need someone to talk to, do not hesitate to reach out to one of our Therapists here at Cape Coral Therapist. and click on the counselor’s tab.