How do parents deal with a depressed child

“I don't have to be perfect” - Depression prevention program in emotionally troubled families

“It doesn't work anymore. That can not go on like this. I can't do it any more. ”Nina N. used to feel this feeling more often in the past. She felt particularly stressful in stressful situations in which she had to balance work and motherhood. The 32-year-old mother of two often suffered from a depressed mood and felt overwhelmed with everything. “I often said to my family, leave me alone, I don't want to anymore. I withdrew or got loud and angry very quickly. ”The relationship with her children was heavily strained as a result. Her son in particular showed behavioral problems and was reluctant to take the educational measures. He was irritated that his mother set no limits and often gave in. In a depressive phase, the 32-year-old was only exhausted and could no longer respond to her children. Nina N. needed support.


Fortunately, during a stay in a mother-child clinic on the North Sea, Nina N. found out about a new prevention program EFFEKT-E, which stands for "Development support in families: Parents and children training for families with emotional stress". The project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is offered directly in mother-child clinics. EFFEKT-E was developed together with the Federal Association of Workers' Welfare and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. The aim is to help severely stressed mothers by providing them with strategies for parenting, interaction and stress management. “I immediately decided to take part in the program with my son,” reports the 32-year-old.

Depression in the mother affects children's behavior
Nina N. is not an isolated case. Around 17 percent of the population in Germany suffer from depression that requires treatment at least once in their life. Problematic: Children of depressed mothers have a greatly increased risk of developing depression themselves later than other children. The background is explained by graduate psychologist Dr. Anneke Bühler, head of the depression-specific prevention program EFFEKT-E: “Depressed mothers have little confidence in themselves and often show problematic parenting practices. They intervene as little as possible or hardly prescribe their children and feel less competent in bringing up them. "

Nina N. also knows this situation. Her four-year-old son reacted conspicuously to her inconsistent upbringing methods and tried to get his way. "Nope, I don't want to do that now" was a common reaction. "The mother's depression also affects the children's emotional behavior," says Dr. Buhler. “They are noticeably more likely to show anxious, depressed and tense behavior than other children. For this reason, our prevention program works on both sides. ”EFFEKT-E is the first program that works with both depressed mothers and their children.

Targeted training helps mothers and children
Trained psychologists and educators carry out the EFFEKTE training in a total of eight mother-child clinics in Germany. There are separate training units for the mostly four to six year old children and their mothers. The children's training is a child-friendly group training for solving social problems. The parenting training, which was developed for mothers with depressive disorders, works with role-play, for example, and deals with topics such as the basic rules of positive parenting, setting limits or strategies for coping with stress. Nina N. was able to take new knowledge with her from all course hours. She has learned how to formulate her wishes positively in order to encourage the children in their independent behavior without giving up their education. In addition, she now knows that she can ask her social circle for support: “I don't have to be perfect, and there is no shame in getting help. Maybe your friend can take care of the children if you are not feeling well yourself. ”Even such simple measures can stabilize the relationship with the children.

Self-confidence in upbringing - and let the child be a child
The EFFEKT-E training helped Nina N. to become more relaxed. She has learned to master parenting better and now feels more secure in her motherhood. EFFEKT-E also helped her to feel empowered to deal with future problems. “For example, I don't blow up when my children do something that I don't like. I try to take myself back. That also means that I let my children resolve their conflicts among themselves and not interfere. They should first solve the problem they have with each other without me. And I'm really amazed at how well they can do it. ”Giving the children more opportunities to be a child and positively encouraging them in this is an aspect that Nina N. learned in the course and from which her two children benefit. No wonder that her son was “totally enthusiastic” about the course.

Mother-child clinics in which the EFFEKT-E program is offered:
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Mother and child spa center "Louise-Schroeder-Haus", Keitum / Sylt, Gabriele Bossmann, [email protected]
- Health center “Lotte-Lemke-Haus”, Esens / Bensersiel, Annemarie Richter, [email protected]
- Mother and Child Health Center Langeoog, Gudrun Janssen, [email protected]
- Mother and Child Health Center Altenau, Altenau / Harz, Jessica Waschke, [email protected]
- “Am Rennsteig” health center, Steinheid, Antje Schramm-Siegel, [email protected]
- AWO Health Center am Spiegelwald, Grünhain-Beierfeld, Elvira Hellmich, [email protected]
- Kurhaus "Zur Solequelle", Bad Windsheim, Dietmar Leberecht, [email protected]
- Kurhaus and sanatorium "Lindenhof", Gunzenhausen, Anna Dörrfuß, [email protected]

EFFEKT-E - A project in mother-child clinics for the prevention of depression
The EFFEKT-E program is based on the fundamental program “Development and Development Support in Families” at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and has been adapted for people at risk of depression. The prevention program is aimed at mothers with depressive symptoms who take part in a mother-child measure and have a child between the ages of four and six.

Children's training “I can solve problems”: Contents are the basics of social-cognitive problem-solving and behavior-related problem-solving skills such as alternative solutions, expectations and the assessment of practical skills. The focus of the training is on the differentiation, perception and expression of emotions. Didactically, the psychologists work with role-playing games, model games, question-and-answer sessions, movement games, picture templates, singing games and hand puppets.

Parent training: On the one hand, the content includes general parenting skills such as positive parenting, requests and demands, as well as setting boundaries. On the other hand, further course hours deal with depression-specific effects on upbringing. Stress management strategies and the promotion of social support are important aspects in reducing the stress experienced by the mother. In addition, there are tips on how best to deal with the child in a depressive phase. In a final mutual interaction lesson between mothers and children, the content is deepened again.

Contact person:
Dr. Dipl.-Psych. Anneke Bühler
IFT Institute for Therapy Research
Parzivalstrasse 25
80804 Munich
Tel .: 089 36 08 04-0
Fax: 089 36 08 04-49
Email: [email protected]