As we all wonder and worry where our economy is headed, don’t underestimate how much your children know (or think they know) and how upset they may be. It’s unlikely that they will bring up the subject. Ask them what they’ve heard at school or on the news? With older children, use news reports to engage them in the conversation. Being truthful is essential for underscoring key lessons and keeping children from panicking.
If you or your partner lost a job, talk about how companies decide which employees they will keep and which ones they will let go -- you can get into issues of seniority or your company’s work source and how the demand is less, for example. For younger children, a simple announcement is sufficient.
Whatever your child’s age, the current situation is an opportunity to stop giving in and indulging your children. If nothing else, it gives you the chance to say NO, and to teach children lessons, concepts, and skills they will need as they mature: understanding they can’t always have their way or everything they want, how to cope with disappointment, insights into money management, budgeting and saving, but most importantly, how to support each other and contribute to the family.
Throughout the ups and downs -- age-appropriate suggestions:
1.) Stay calm -- how you react to the country’s (and your personal) economic problems is probably how your children will react. Staying calm sends the message that the circumstances are important and you wish they were otherwise.
13.) And, let them know that what’s going on now isn’t forever.
Ask for your children’s help
Be forthright in explaining that you need everyone’s help in scaling back family spending. Request their ideas. When I was a child my parents asked us to turn out the lights when we left the room. If you forgot and someone caught you, you had to put a dime in the family piggy bank. Younger children will delight in catching their older siblings or parents who leave a light on.