Caring for Caregivers
Raising happy children starts with happy caregivers
This page focuses on helping parents to take care of their mental health and face stress and psychological stress in the face of current changes. In addition, this will help them to take better care of their children, but it will also help them be patient to deal healthily with their children's difficult behaviors without resorting to violence.
- It's not easy to take care of a family and a house, sharing responsibilities makes things easier.
- It's okay to ask for help when you're tired or need a break.
- Share household responsibilities equally among adults at home, and give your children a share of the responsibilities as appropriate to their age.
- Encourage open communication between family members:
- Listen to others attentively and don't interrupt them.
- Make requests in a positive way: “Could you please give me some time to finish what I’m doing and I will be with you in five minutes” instead of “don’t bother me, go away, I’m busy”
- Express your negative feelings and focus on using “I” messages:
- Instead of using “you” messages which tends to blame or criticize the other person, focus on what you feel: “I feel sad when you don’t involve me in your playing” instead of “you never let me play with you”
Topics every parent should learn about
How to control your temper and frustration when dealing with children?
- The same things usually make us angry or stresses every time.
- Make note of what makes you angry: How does it happen? How do you normally react?
- Try to prevent it from the beginning: If it happens when you get tired, get some rest or sleep. If it’s feeling alone, ask a friend or a relative for support.
- Take a break: When you feel angry, take a 20-seconds to cool down. Take 5 long slow breaths before reacting or speaking.
- If your child is not responding to your requests, think about whether this situation fits under long-term or short-term goals.
- Differentiate between long-term and short-term goals:
- Long-term goals: These are the kind of relationship we want to have with our children when they grow up, the life skills we want them to have as adults, like being: Responsible, Empathic, Respectful, Independent, Nonviolent, Self-confident, Happy, Successful.
- Short-term goals: These are things we want to accomplish for today or over a short time like: getting them to putting the toys away, eating their meal, studying, sticking to the rules about screen time (TV/Mobile), Helping with chores.
Ask yourself, what’s more important?
Their blind obedience on every instruction or their wellbeing and confidence?
Always remember that disciplinary violence is harmful to all parties
Read more here about the impact of violence on children and here on how to use alternative means to enhance their behavior.
Here's this story about a mother who was beating her children and resorted to one of UNICEF-supported family club facilitators in Aswan to help her.
Constant stress can have its effect on any relationship no matter how strong it is. Learning to communicate better is important not only for your relationship, but also for your child’s health and wellbeing.
Why is harmony at home important for children?
Children who witness family violence develop behavioral problems which can affect their concentration at school or show up as problematic social behavior. They can become more prone to develop anxiety and depression.
We are our children’s role models, seeing continuous conflicts will teach them to be violent with us and others. Read more on the impact of violence on children.
Tips for better communication between parents:
- Select a good time to talk to each other.
- Be an active empathetic listener:
- Don’t interrupt. Show genuine interest in what your partner has to say
- Thank them for trying to be better: Thanking the other person (even for doing things that are supposed to be a “duty” like doing chores or caring for the kids) makes them feel appreciated and feel better about themselves, it also shows you notice the good things.
- Make your requests in a positive way:
- A positive request is asking a person to do something, not to stop doing something. Example: “Please speak in a lower voice” instead of “Stop making so much noise”.
- Skills to make a positive request: Look at the person, say exactly what you would like him or her to do in a polite and calm voice, tell him/her how it would make you feel.
- Use phrases like: “I would like you to….” “I would really appreciate it if you would do….” “It’s very important to me that you help me with the…..”
Parents of differently-abled (special needs) children
We appreciate that you, as parents of differently-abled children, face more challenges than others. Here are some tips that can help you:
- Talk to other parents in a similar situation, you can read parents’ stories and conversations through online support groups.
- Reach out to disability or condition-specific organizations and the Ministry of Social Solidarity’s hotline 15044 for support.
- Make a plan for who will care for your child and other family members in emergency. This will provide a sense of security and reassurance.
- Be kind to yourself: It might take you more time than other parents to manage every-day challenges. Be patient, avoid continuous self-blame and guilt and dedicate time to rest and taking care of yourself.
- Looking after your disabled child can be hard and may affect your relationship with your partner.
- Keep communicating.
- Avoid blame.
- Make sure both of you help care for your child even if you do things differently.
- Ask friends, family or neighbors if they’re happy to help out for a while so you can spend time together as a couple.
- Your other children may feel confused, jealous or overlooked compared to their different brother or sister:
- Try to explain the situation to them and show them that you love them and there for them anytime they need.
- Do family activities that include everyone, like playing a game. But aim to spend some quality time alone with each of your children too.
Here are some inspirational stories about hero parents
(just like you!)
The most important job in the world is the job of parents in raising their children. This should not prevent either parents from having a fair chance to build a successful career in addition to their most important job.
How to handle children while working from home?
i. Make a daily plan with your children
- Plan your working hours to coincide with playing or studying time for your children.
- If your children are old enough explain to them the importance of giving you some quiet time to finish your work.
- Plan your breaks to check up on them and share a simple activity.
ii. Share the load with other adults in the home
- Communicate with your partner and divide the time needed to care for your children amongst yourselves, find a schedule that allows you both to do your work and still spend some family time together.
- If you’re both working from home, plan two-hour work shifts to alternate working with caring for children and other responsibilities.
iii. Make the most of your children’s nap time
If your children take naps during the day, this would be an optimal time to get some work done.
iv. Dedicate a space at home for work
If possible, dedicate a quiet and comfortable place at home for your work. If not possible, you can still work with your children around, but communicate with them if you need some quiet time to make any calls or concentrate on a task.
v. Be honest with yourself and your employer
- Set realistic and small goals to accomplish throughout the day. This way you won’t get frustrated. See what works and change your plans accordingly.
- Communicate with your employer if it will be impossible to take calls or attend a meeting, and be clear about your capacity and what you can deliver, this will help you both to find solutions.
Maternity and paternity leave
At the beginning of their children's lives, parents need to give children more time and effort. At UNICEF, we call on governments and businesses to invest more in policies that give the father and mother the time and support they need to raise happy and healthy children.
In Egypt, there are distinctive models for companies that give special privileges to parents such as paternity leaves and daycare
How can employers help parents to give their children the best possible start in life?