This study examined daily poverty‐related stress and parents' efforts to help children cope with stress in relation to learned helplessness for young children attending a Head Start preschool. A total of 750 telephone interviews were conducted with 75 parents concerning their daily stressors and strategies they used to help children cope. A behavioral protocol measured child learned helplessness. Multilevel modeling showed a positive within‐persons relationship between daily stress and coping, and a positive between‐persons relationship between daily stress and child learned helplessness. Implications include understanding the daily processes through which the poverty ecology transmits risk for negative child developmental outcomes and through which parents might offer protection. Specifically, the results suggest that daily poverty‐related stressors may undermine young children's developing sense of control and suggest the importance of further research on how parent coping might promote positive outcomes.