Parenting During Stressful Times

Mental Health America released a wonderful article on parenting in a tough economic climate, when adult stress and anxiety may be much higher than usual. Parents’ worries may be compounded when there is job loss, a loss of income, increased financial pressures, or even uncertainty in the workplace. This anxiety often “spills over” into the home life, affecting children. Here are some tips from Mental Health America on keeping a balance at home when it may feel like there is so much uncertainty everywhere else:

Limit kids’ exposure to worries, especially topics that are beyond their developmental age. Remember that children are perceptive – they understand more than you may think!
Be honest, but also appropriate. Remember that kids’ have incredible imaginations, but that those imaginations can run wild if kids are only given pieces of information. Try not to overwhelm, and point out areas of life that are stable (such as remaining in the same school, home, etc.). Try to keep a routine; kids like predictability.

Economize in a way that’s clear and fair. Children can learn about finance by being involved in budgeting. If you need to scale back, make sure that children understand that everyone in the family is cutting back on spending and that their activities are not the only ones that are being cut.

Ask kids to help out around the house and by contributing to others. Helping builds self-esteem and teaches children values they will carry with them for life.

Set aside time for yourself. Raising children is both rewarding and challenging. Be sure to take time for yourself to relax and unwind. If you feel like stress is getting the better of you, seek out a friend or a professional counselor. Similarly, if you notice a change in your child’s behavior, talk to your child’s doctor, teacher, or a counselor.