[photopress:piggy_bank_309.jpg,thumb,pp_style] By Jaleh Donaldson
Stress is something everyone experiences on a regular basis, but with the economic downturn, increase in unemployment, reduced value in assets, along with other changes in our society, the pressures on parents increase as they strive to successfully parent during the current financial storm.
Children are sensitive to their parents’ feelings and can pick up nuances that parents assume are unnoticed, thus causing second-hand stress in their children. Avoiding stress may be impossible, but the good news is that there are things parents can do to help their children remain resilient even in the face of the severe storms of life.
Allow for open communication. First and foremost, allow for open communication. Address any questions or concerns your child may have. Be honest and express the current economic situation in simple terms. Remind them that praying and relying on Heavenly Father’s help will get the family through this difficult time. This will ease your child’s mind and calm their body.
Be a positive role model. Be a positive role model. Actions speak louder than words, and you are your child’s most powerful role model. They will follow what you do, but not always what you say. So, instead of telling your child not to stress out, demonstrate stress reduction techniques like deep breathing and exercise.
Involve your children in a community service project. Involve them in a community service project. Focus your child’s attention on learning about their community and making positive changes in someone else’s life to get their minds off the family’s financial situation. Have your child help pick a community service that they would enjoy.
Make this time a teachable moment. You can teach them something valuable during these hard economic times. Use these changes to educate your children on the importance of working, budgeting and prioritizing. Decide together what type of chores they will do to earn money. Then talk with them about dividing their allowance into tithing, saving and spending money.
Maintain a consistent daily routine. Maintain a consistent daily routine. Children today may feel insecure about the direction their family is headed. A predictable routine involving school, chores, meals and leisure activities instills feelings of security.
Provide fun activities for your children. Providing fun activities works as well. Don’t allow hardships to ruin their fun and happiness. Spend time everyday doing something together like a park picnic, visit to the temple, board games, cookie bake or even a walk.
Jaleh Donaldson holds a Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Counseling and a supervisory permit in early child development. She lives in California with her husband and two young sons.