Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Financial Crisis: Our Children Are Feeling It Too.

The trickle down effect is in full force!  With gas and retail prices skyrocketing parents are struggling to stick within a budget, avoid using credit cards and simply make ends meet. This creates a huge amount of stress and whether you are discussing the situation with your children or not- they know something is up. The nation is in a state of financial emergency and how parents react to that emergency will directly impact their children.

Here are some simple strategies for keeping your children calm and addressing the financial situation.
  1. Keep you composure. Your anxiety and distress directly impact your children. While you may understand why you are acting this way young children may not. All they are able to see is a parent or parents who are on edge and upset.  The more in control you are the more they will be.
  2. Limit their news intake. Just like a natural disaster- children may not understand how information coming from media impacts them directly. Watch with them so you can explain.
  3. Don’t kid about the situation. Subtle humor about going broke or not having enough food to eat may alleviate your tension but young children are likely to interpret that information literally. Speak to your children honestly about the situation.
  4. Don’t over inform. Different ages can understand different amounts of information so before you speak to your children remind yourself of their age and what they can handle.
  5. Assure their safety and well being. They may not like the fact that there isn’t enough money to buy a toy but they need to know that you will protect them and that they will be safe.
  6. Let them help.  Give children a chance to make an impact by simple actions like cutting coupons, having bake sales, saving allowance. While the financial impact will not be great, they will feel more at ease by contributing.
  7. Be patient. Children process information differently and more slowly so be prepared for many questions repeated over and over.
  8. Look for warning signs. Children, who are not sleeping, complaining of headaches or stomachaches, are tired, or who are irritated may be experiencing stress.

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