Mind Your Mental Health - Parents with children
Working from home, home schooling and no play dates or sports allowed – things are not easy for families at the moment. Everyday life has had to be completely reorganised, and the entire family now spends all its time together at home. It’s no wonder then if families are feeling stressed and tense. This can even lead to arguments from time to time, even though that’s not what anybody wants. In addition to all that, parents are worried about their family’s health, and about their careers. Children are often aware that parents are stressed, which often leads to them feeling anxious and stressed themselves.
Things might be a little extra tense in some families at the moment. Sometimes just sitting down and really listening to each other and responding with understanding is helpful. It’s important to talk about things. After all, every member of the family will be dealing with the current situation in their own way.
Keep reminding yourself that taking good care of your children – round the clock – under these conditions is no easy task. Feeling tired or overwhelmed is completely normal. That makes it all the more important to make sure you are looking after yourself as well. Make sure you give yourself breaks. For example, you and your family can arrange times during which every person can choose something to do for themselves.
When you find yourself in stressful situations, take a short time-out for yourself, take a deep breath, and count to ten in your head. Then speak calmly with your child. Even if you’re arguing with your partner, just take a brief pause to calm down. Taking a step back and a deep breath can help you both be more understanding with each other.
More tips for dealing with family tension are available here:
- https://www.corona-und-du.info/eltern/ (German only)
Help children and young people
Changes in school life, home schooling, having to complete school work more independently, limited recreational activities, and restrictions on social contact have all been particularly challenging for children and young people. Many aspects of their lives have shifted into the home. They may feel bored or lonely, and all this can contribute to conflict within the family.
- Tips to promote good mental health in children are available on the informational portal for parents (German only)
- Portal for children and young people (German only)
Age-appropriate information for children all about COVID-19 is available here:
- More tips with ideas for structuring your family’s day when you have children six and under are available here: https://www.kindergesundheit-info.de/themen/risiken-vorbeugen/coronavirus-sars-cov-2-elterninformationen/familienalltag-in-corona-zeiten/ (German only)
Digital media can help young people keep in touch with others, and screen time is an integral part of everyday life when home schooling. This makes it even more important to take some occasional breaks from screens.
Tips for reasonable media use and up-to-date tips for handling digital media are available here:
- https://www.schau-hin.info/news/zu-hause-wegen-corona-sinnvolle-mediennutzung-fuer-kinder (German only)
Parenting in partnership
Restrictions to attending schools, nurseries and other social activities have all posed particular challenges for parents in terms of childcare. There may be less time for just the two of you. In addition, both parents are dealing with their own fears, worries and uncertainties, and may have different ways of processing their own feelings. You may also have different needs in terms of space and communication.
Don’t fight in front of children
Avoid situations where your child might be dragged into an argument or forced to take sides with one parent. Explain to your child that your conflict with your partner has nothing to do with the child, and that it’s not their fault. Check in with your child after the argument if they are feeling sad or unsettled. Explain to your child that their parents still love each other, even if they argue. Explain that sometimes it’s good to have an argument so you can resolve differences of opinion and problem-solve.
Be there for each other as a couple
Even during difficult circumstances like a pandemic, it’s a good idea to create time to spend alone together to prevent conflict in your relationship. Take time out for each other. Closeness and communication strengthen a relationship, making it easier to get through this challenging time.
If you find yourself in need of support, contact your local family centres or helplines – some offer couples counselling.
Try to keep a positive outlook on the future
Remind yourself that the current situation is temporary. Talk with your family and make plans for when this is all over. Which friends and family members will you meet up with? What will you do? What have you perhaps discovered as a family during this time that you will take with you going forward?
Sometimes you need support
Are you worried about your child or think your child could do with some support? Sometimes it helps to confide in someone outside of the family. Specific counselling services are available for children and young people to provide free, anonymous guidance. Write down the information for your child on a piece of paper so they can make the decision for themselves whether they want to use the service.
- Nummer gegen Kummer helpline for children and young people Tel.: 116 111 https://www.nummergegenkummer.de/kinder-und-jugendtelefon.html (German only)
- Online counselling service run by the Bundeskonferenz für Erziehungsberatung (German Federal Association for Educational Counselling) https://jugend.bke-beratung.de (German only)
- Online counselling services for young people https://www.jugendnotmail.de(German only)
Counselling services are also available for parents:
- Nummer gegen Kummer helpline for parents Tel.: 0800 111 0 550 https://www.nummergegenkummer.de/elterntelefon.html (German only)
- Online counselling service run by the Bundeskonferenz für Erziehungsberatung (German Federal Association for Educational Counselling) https://eltern.bke-beratung.de (German only)
Local counselling services may be available near you through family centres and parental advice centres.