For many adults financial stress has increased over recent years, as the economy has weakened and the unemployment rate has increased. Financial stress within families has also affected children. The American Psychological Association reports that half of teens indicated they worried more this year than last year, whereas only 28% of parents reported their teen’s worry level had increased.. This poll was asking about generalized worrying. Furthermore a New York Times poll reported that 40% of parents indicated behavioral changes in their kids that they believed were due to the financial problems of their family. This is not surprising as many children have been forced to move, leave friends, and change schools due to parents’ losing their jobs or being forced to downgrade in salary or position. Adolescents are particularly at risk as they notice tension and stress in the home more than younger children. Of particular importance is adolescents’ tendency to avoid negative emotions, leading to an increase in escape behaviors, that is avoiding the unpleasant situation or emotion through another activity, such as web surfing and video games. Other signs your child is experiencing stress due to the family’s finances include angry or aggressive outbursts as well as symptoms of anxiety like questioning purchases or expressing worry about family finances of their parents’ job stability directly. So, how do you help your child during these stressful times?
- First, realize that you are a role model for your child. If parents confront uncomfortable emotions themselves, they will make it easier for their kids to do so as well. Likewise, don’t shield your kids from what is going on. Even young children should be told what is happening in terms they understand.
- Get your child involved with chores and family activities. Ask your child to come up with inexpensive family activities, such as picnics, free concerts, or a day at the beach. Having your kids pitch in will give them a sense of control.
- If you do have to move or switch schools help your child stay connected with friends. There are many options for easy communication through internet and video chat; better yet try and establish regular play dates with the friends they have while encouraging them to establish new connections through social activities, clubs or organizations.
- Finally, use this as an opportunity to teach your kids about responsible finances. Beliefs about spending and saving money are instilled when we are young, your kids will benefit from talking with you about your financial situation.
- If you or a family member is having difficulty dealing with the emotional ramifications of financial stress please give us a call at Holtz Psychological Services, our caring professionals are here to help.