Friday, October 17, 2008

Sat on CNN - Economic Crisis and Children

Please join me tomorrow morning (Saturday, October 18th) on CNN at 8:00 am (Central Time). I will be talking about the effects of the current economic crisis on children. I will be covering the following:

Seven tips for talking to your child about the economic crisis
Over the past several weeks, people have become increasingly concerned about and impacted by the current economic crisis. Parents are worried. We are all worried. Many changes to people’s living situations and lifestyles are now taking place. When parents are worried, the children soak this up like a sponge. Like adults, children respond to financial stress in diverse ways. Many children are fine and show little impact. However , there are many other children who respond by becoming more withdrawn, shy, anxious, and clingy. Other children have responded by becoming more active, impulsive, and even aggressive. T o ensure that your child weathers the storm of these days of hardships in a positive way parents are encouraged to do the following:
  • Be aware that children will be impacted by the current challenges in our country, some more than others. Those who are affected may not show signs of anxiety in an obvious way. Your child may be affected and if this is the case, more support is necessary.
  • Hang out with your child as much as possible. If you are extremely busy, even a little time is better than no time. Just knowing you are there will be a source of comfort. When you are with your child, you do not necessarily have to do something structured. Just being with your child is wonderful in itself.
  • Talk to your child honestly about what is currently happening. There is no need to go into complete detail about everything. Just, briefly explain. If your child wants to know more, then explain as much as the child developmentally can understand.
  • Offer to be there for him or her. Tell your child that you would love to talk if he/she has concerns of their own.
  • Emphasize resilience. Tell your child that he/she will be fine. Explain that many families throughout the history of the world have faced hardships and have done well.
  • Be a good listener. Don’ t try and fix your child’s feelings. Just listen and acknowledge the feelings shared.
  • Keep your family routine as consistent as possible. Keep your dinner and play times the same. Keep the child in their school if at all possible. Children do best when their routine is not drastically altered.

If you feel that your child’s emotions or behavior are greatly impacting daily functioning, then it may be time to seek professional help. Parents are encouraged to first consult the natural caregivers in their child’s life such as the teacher, school counselor, or family physician. These professionals see all types of children on a regular basis and will have a good sense of if more specialized help is needed. These professionals also will have ideas regarding to whom to turn for help.

Times are tough and listening to all the negativity around us can be quite the bummer. But, rather than giving up, stay positive and find that inner strength to hold on. With patience and persistence the good times will soon be upon us again.