The recession is putting stress on families all over the country, but what you may not know is that it is affecting your kids and their behavior.
Although children are supposed to be carefree, seeing the worry and stress of their parents can take a major toll on them. In one Ohio school, ten year old Leah Kehler confided in her teacher about her fears that her family would have to move due to her father being laid off. Another child in that class even went to school with tape holding her broken glasses together.
These situations and many like them are happening everyday in schools and are causing children to behave unusually. Some may act out in school or become more quiet and introverted. Though these behaviors are difficult to observe, there are ways that, as a parent, you can help mend the situation.
Identify the feeling: Since children are not used to feeling so much stress or stress specifically related to home life, help them to identify the feeling. Most children are not even sure what the words stress or anxiety mean, so it is difficult for them to classify an emotion they don’t know the name for. Try asking your child why they may be looking more upset lately and why. Then, help them to understand that this is not the easiest of times, but as a family you will help each other through it and let them know you’re there for support.
Make the time: Sometimes it can be difficult to pick up on your child’s anxiety when you are caught up in your own stress and kids may be hesitant to ask for your time when they see you are surrounded by so much chaos. Make sure to put some time aside everyday to ask about school and friends and then try to delve into deeper issues from there. This works best when you are doing an activity together, such as playing catch or while setting the table for dinner.
Be honest: Though it is not necessary to lay out every detail of the situation, tell kids that you may be eating out less or may not make as many trips to the toy store as usual. It may be difficult for children to understand at first, but if they maintain the same expectations that they had before the recession it will only be harder to keep up with their belief. In addition, money that would be spent on treats could go toward daily necessities, such as groceries.
Encourage teamwork: Some current financial situations may require one or both parents to get an extra job, meaning that kids may have to help more around the house. First, always assign chores that kids can do easily so when finished they are always left with a feeling of accomplishment. Also, try and make chores fun. Organize a team of kids versus adults and have a race. Or try a chore chart and when a chore is done a sticker gets put by your child’s name or the task that they accomplished.
Overall, always reassure your children of your unconditional love for them. Be sure to let them know that you care and have their best interest in mind. This along with the tips above should lead to a happier, less stressful home.