As the weak economy continues, chances are good that you or someone your family knows will be affected. Naturally, you want to be able to able to answer any questions your child may have without adding to their worries. Try these suggestions for talking about the economy with your children.
General Guidelines for Talking About the Economy With Your Kids
1. Put materialism into perspective. Studies show that happiness is more about experiences than possessions. Your kids will be better off if they seek support from relationships and spiritual traditions rather than relying on shopping to make them feel good.
2. Encourage saving. Tight family budgets are also good for teaching the importance of saving. Show them how you maintain a rainy day fund and save in advance for vacations.
3. Explain wants and needs. When your kids notice family cutbacks, you have a great opportunity to distinguish between essential and discretionary spending. Explain that mortgage payments come first, but they can vote on whether to buy brand name breakfast cereal or use the grocery savings to purchase a new video game.
4. Be consistent. Set a good example by keeping the household budget on track. Kids get bombarded with ads so you give them a valuable lesson by showing how to resist sales pressure.
5. Maintain an ongoing dialogue. Just like sex, money matters are more than a single conversation. Family meetings are one great way to structure a regular time for such important issues.
6. Give back to your community. Reaching out to others is a sure way to welcome more abundance into your own life. Find volunteer projects for the whole family through your church or neighborhood associations. They will help your whole family feel more grateful even during hard times.
Suggestions for Younger Children
1. Remain upbeat. Small children are very sensitive to their parent’s moods. Take care of yourself and try to remain cheerful. If you’re showing signs of fatigue and worry, give your kids a straightforward but brief explanation to help prevent them from blaming themselves.
2. Let them ask the questions. Federal bank policy is complicated. For most kids under 10, it’s okay to use their questions as guidelines for what’s on their minds. Also, stick to simple language they can understand.
3. Encourage teamwork. Kids enjoy being part of the solution. Assign them tasks during grocery shopping. Brainstorm together about finding free and cheap goodies like movies from the library and using leftover gift wrap to cover school books.
4. Talk with your child’s teacher. Teachers often have excellent insights about how children are feeling about current events. Seek out their advice.
5. Watch for potential signs of distress. Consult your pediatrician if you see changes in your child’s sleeping and eating habits. Life events like divorce can compound the impact of financial setbacks.
Suggestions for Tweens and Teens
1. Discuss the news together. Watch good quality news programming together as a family. You’ll stimulate informed discussion of trends relevant to your own household.
2. Research topics of interest. Knowledge is empowering. Assist your children with using online sources or your local library to learn more about the job market or other subjects.
3. Nurture your child’s inner entrepreneur. Teaching your child how to earn money is an even better gift than sending them to some tropical locale for spring break. Working part-time jobs or finding ways to make money from their hobbies can build their confidence and college savings.
Keep any discussion about finances simple and age appropriate. By projecting a positive attitude, you’ll help your child to feel reassured and better equipped to manage the inevitable ups and downs of the economic cycle.