Debt-related stress affects everyone in a family — adults aren’t the only ones who feel that anxiety. Children pick up on stresses around them, even if you think you’re hiding your own anxiety well. Keep in mind that just because you speak about your situation in hushed voices doesn’t mean your child doesn’t hear and understand. Children are much more astute than we realize and pick up on all the little changes in our manner, speech, and personality.
Young children don’t understand what it takes to manage finances and can make broad assumptions about the consequences (“We’re going to lose our house and have to live on the street.”). Usually, financial issues result in cutting back on unnecessary expenses (eating out, movies, etc.) and not foreclosure.
Symptoms of Stress
Watch for signs of anxiety in your children. They include:
- Changes in sleep patterns, or bedwetting
- Stomach aches and headaches. Others have trouble concentrating or completing schoolwork. Still others become
withdrawn or spend a lot of time alone.
- Younger children may pick up new habits like thumb sucking, hair twirling, or nose picking; older kids may begin to lie, bully, or defy authority. A child who is stressed may also have nightmares, difficulty leaving you, overreactions to minor problems, and drastic changes in academic performance
What You Can Do To Help
Talk to your children at an age-appropriate level. Explain what’s happening, giving them the proper perspective of the situation. Answer their questions, giving them the reassurance that they can come to you with any concerns.
Discuss important issues when your child isn’t at home. This will give you the freedom to discuss what you need to without the issue of your child overhearing you. Just because you speak about your situation in hushed voices doesn’t mean your child doesn’t hear and understand.
Let them help you plan alternatives to more expensive outings. Perhaps a family movie night with pizza and popcorn, a trip to the swimming pool, or a camp-out in the back yard? This will give them a little control back and make them feel like they are part of the solution.
Make sure your children know they are loved and will have a roof over their heads and food on the table. It might seem obvious to you, but a little reassurance goes a long way to making them feel better.
Parents can also use this as a learning opportunity. Teach your children how to be financially responsible, how to care for their belongings, and to teach thankfulness and gratitude.
How 4 Pillars Can Help
One if the best ways to deal with financial stress is of course to reduce the stress by dealing with the situation. If the financial stress is debt related (high payments, behind on payments, or just too much debt) then of course we can help. Our highly qualified and certified budget/debt counsellors can assist you in resolving the debt issues and helping eliminate the stress.