How can you be there for your kids when you’re stressed?

My dears, some of you will surely recognize yourself in the next few lines – because many of you are really achieving a lot every day and being deployed on different fronts. Elizabeth Rafoff is a qualified psychiatrist and wrote us an article on exactly these excessive demands:

“It feels like squaring the circle: you just broke up, you lost your job, your mom needs care, Corona and now also worried about war — the storage space in your head has long been full. Then there are the kids who need you now more than ever.

Sometimes it’s just too much – even for parents. This could have different reasons. Parents are overwhelmed by personal worries, professional difficulties, and global social, health and political crises and at some point the battery is simply empty.

But then who is looking at the children? What about them if we lose them? When we can’t simply do multiple tasks, but only one thing at a time: work from home or take care of the kids, take care of our parents or go to school for a parent’s evening. Shopping, cooking, cleaning or listening and interacting with children.

Children feel overloaded

Children feel when their parents are no longer capable of it and it affects them: some interact with overworked parents by trying to help them and take on parenting tasks. They take care of the family, look after younger siblings and listen to their parents’ concerns. They gradually slip into the role of parents, sometimes imperceptibly. This is called paternity in technical terms: “formation of parents”. However, they are completely immersed in this role. To be a child or young person to perform their own developmental tasks, to play, to rebel against adults, is no longer a place. They cannot bear the suffering of their parents.

Others become obvious. They themselves get sick, suffer insomnia, eat too little or stop eating, injure themselves, act aggressively, or withdraw into themselves.

What can parents do when they can no longer do it themselves?

The first step is, of course, the realization: I am confused and my child is neglected. Acknowledging yourself that it’s too much sets the stage for action. Then the parents can give the kids a signal: It’s not your fault that I’m anxious and can’t stand it anymore. Depends on the position. The “enemy” is outside.

For children, this means first and foremost: they will be seen. I see that you are suffering now and there is no room for your fears.

At the same time, it is important to inform children that they do not have to interfere. To transfer to you: We will provide support. “You don’t have to console me or slip into the role of parents. We will get help. We look at who you can talk to, who can help us in the family and what can relieve us. – we talk to acquaintances, relatives, teachers, neighbors who can help us – and if that is not enough, We seek professional advice.”

Reducing Claims Brings Convenience

Sometimes – if we are aware of excessive demands, it helps immediately: Reduce demands: Not everything has to be perfect. Apartment doesn’t have to be clean and shiny, school grades don’t have to be great, and we don’t have to take care of Grandma alone. There are good reasons why things are not going well. We realize that. We take that into consideration.

So the question arises: what is really important now? Relax, rest and let go. Is it really important that the family is up front, that the school grades are great, and that the room is tidy? No it is not.

What exactly do children need? – Kids need our eyes. Signal: You are seen and you matter. They need positive communication with us. Feeling safe being held and respected. A secure relationship they can orient themselves into.

At the same time you need space for yourself. An area where they can design and decide for themselves. This way they can test that they have an effect.

What do parents need?

What can you do to comfort yourself? Relaxation of parents, parents who are able to take on their responsibilities, whether it is by getting help, as well as the relaxation of children.
The first point of contact can always be relatives, acquaintances and people you trust. Talking to others means first and foremost: spreading your fears over several shoulders. Even if there is no immediate solution. And when you need more, it may be helpful to get professional support: Educational extension centers, for example, offer a free, low-threshold service. There you can usually get an appointment for an initial consultation relatively quickly. This is always worth it. So: Don’t be left alone with the burden package, and instead ask too much for too little.


Elizabeth Rafouf She works as a psychiatrist in her private practice in Cologne.

Author of many educational guides and educational books, he works on the educational series “Herzfunk” on WDR and is part of the advisory team for the children’s news program “LOGO” on ZDF.

Elizabeth Rafov is herself a mother of a daughter and a son. Her book has just been published Just let us know! ” In the Patmos Publishing House.

Catherine Nachsheim

Katharina Nachtesheim has been a journalist for 15 years, focusing on family and social issues. She has three children and lives in Berlin.

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