How and when to help families
Most of us interact with parents and families every day, in all parts of life – at work, at play, and in services like health, education and welfare. Practical support, information, resources, and someone who’ll listen can all make a huge difference for parents and children. These are things you can provide in your contact with families.
Studies have shown that parents are more likely to seek help and support as part of the daily things they do. For example, they might ask a teacher at their child’s school for advice, or bring up a concern with a doctor, rather than call a parenting hotline. They are also more likely to ask for help when there is a specific issue, like a child not getting along with friends.
What families need help with
Families might have a one-off problem or they might need help with a long-term situation. For example, they might need help with issues such as the following:
Housing: it can be hard for some families to find somewhere they can afford to live.
Employment: some parents might need help finding a job or working out how to give enough of themselves to both work and family.
Finances: some families might have short-term money problems or longer-term problems with budgeting or debt.
Resources: parents might feel they don’t have enough to give their children, because they can’t afford things or because they live far away from where things are available. They might need children’s clothes, toys or nursery equipment.
Access to services: parents might have trouble getting to or using services, either because they don’t have transport or because of language difficulties and not having interpreters.
Relationships: relationship difficulties (including domestic violence) might be making parents stressed or sad, or threatening the family.
Physical health: chronic health problems can interfere with parenting. Single parents can have trouble coping if they become ill.
Mental health: mental health problems like postnatal depression and drug abuse can make it hard to look after children.
Support: coping with social isolation and a lack of personal support from extended family or other parents can be hard.
Helping parents with concerns about children
Parents might also be looking for help with specific concerns about their children. They might be worried about any of the following issues:
Development and learning
- Concerns about developmental delay in a child
- Known developmental disabilities
Mental health problems
- Aggressive behaviour
- Difficulties in self-regulation
- Depression or attachment difficulties
- Management of chronic health conditions (such as asthma or diabetes)
- Management of food sensitivities and allergies
- Worries about poor nourishment or obesity
- Safety of equipment or general environment
- Neglect and abuse