Small child

Financial problems - how to talk about them with your child?


Media reports are not optimistic. Analysts are increasingly talking about a recession that is rapidly spreading across Europe. Hardly anyone hides that it will not be possible to avoid layoffs in large and smaller workplaces and a significant increase in unemployment. We are going to have an exceptionally difficult economic year. That is why we decided to focus on what, unfortunately, many families are facing, that is financial problems. We have no influence on the extent to which they will apply to individual industries, but we can realize that every difficult time does not last forever and can be survived. It is very important to ensure peace and a sense of security of children also in times of financial problems. How to do it? The psychologist Mira Ryckiewicz answers our questions.

Many parents try to protect children from work-related topics and the need to earn money as long as possible. It hides financial problems, because sometimes it is hard to make ends meet. That's good?

It is natural for a parent to try to protect his child for as long as possible from discussing his family's financial problems. Unlike adults, children do not have real opportunities to improve this situation. A person deprived of the opportunity to change the uncomfortable situation regardless of age is exposed to the feeling of discomfort and stress. In the face of parents 'financial problems, a child is simply helpless and thoughtlessly discussing problems with him in the implementation of his parents' financial obligations does not help him at all. On the contrary, it disturbs the sense of security. Therefore, hiding his parents' financial problems from him is not a bad solution.

The situation is different when the child notices the problem and asks about the facts. Then talking about the family situation is necessary. Similarly, things are in a situation where financial problems become a reason for significant changes in the family's life, e.g. moving to a cheaper housing or resigning from additional child activities. It is very important that parents prepare well for it. You have to carry it out in such a way that you do not burden the child with his helplessness, guilt or responsibility for the problem and its solution. This is not possible when the adults themselves are in an impasse and they have no ideas to solve the difficulty. Hence, preparing for a conversation with a child can be understood as analyzing all the possibilities of dealing with problems, seeking the best solutions and support among adults. You can also use the help of specialists, i.e. financial and professional advisors, social workers. You can also look for help in Social Assistance Centers or Family Assistance Centers.

It is different to talk to your child about work and the need to earn money. One should not forget that children will grow up and will have to function in a world that requires the skill of managing a household budget. Contrary to appearances, knowledge about financial mechanisms is not clearly related to adulthood. Each of us must learn to manage money. Nothing prevents you from acquiring this knowledge at home. From an early age, children can be tamed with money and a rational approach to spending. Joint shopping is a great opportunity to talk about the cost of living and the value of money, as well as the ability to control expenses and gain savings enabling the creation of a reserve ensuring a sense of security, or to make a purchase in the long term that exceeds the current capacity of the portfolio.

It is important to remember that when talking to children, their age and level of intellectual, emotional and social development should be taken into account, using terms that are understandable for them and examples available to their experience.

At what age is the child able to realize that there are serious financial problems at home and understand them on the other? Is there such a border at all? To what extent should you inform about problems in the home of the youngest?

Small children react strongly to guardian's emotions. The burden of financial problems and the parents' tension caused by them will certainly not go unnoticed by the child. Young children who are unfamiliar with the value of money cannot understand parents' financial problems as such. However, they see changes in the functioning of the family. Sometimes they react to tension at home with exasperation, aggressiveness or sadness and withdrawal. It is important to respond to children's emotions and help them cope with these unpleasant emotional states. Mom or dad should explain to the child the reasons for negative emotions and nervous behavior in a way that the child understands. It is important that the child hears that it is not their reason. If the parents are too absorbed in the problem, another person close to them, e.g. a grandmother, can talk to the child.

For older children, these conversations may be more open. Especially when the child receives pocket money. Parents may be forced to reduce their child's money. Nobody likes situations where privileges are taken away from him. Your child will certainly not be happy about this. Can react with feelings of harm. That is why it is important to discuss the real possibilities of parents with the child. It is worth informing the child that the reduction of privileges applies to each family member and this is not a punishment, but a temporary situation requiring changes to be made to improve it.

How to report if a parent has lost his job? Should the child know this? How to ensure a sense of security?
A parent who has lost his job can react to this aggravating life event either with the relief of the fact that he is finally saying goodbye to his disliked employer, or enormous stress and anxiety about his further functioning on the labor market and fears about the material existence of the family. It is important that such a person receives support and understanding from loved ones. Sometimes the atmosphere at home deteriorates significantly. There are conflicts. Children often find out that a parent lost their jobs by accident. It is important to verify how the child understands this situation. Explain and calm the child's fears. A person undertaking a conversation with a child does not have to be a parent experiencing a loss - it can be too difficult due to the intensity of emotions they experience. Definitely it can be done by another person close to your child.

It is clear that parents / parents who lose their jobs can be upset, depressed, sad. Should they hide their emotions so as not to burden the children with their problems, or rather admit it out loud?

It is very difficult to hide strong emotions from people with whom we often spend time and who know us well. Therefore, a better solution is to admit these emotions. With children, however, you must remember to use the arguments available to the child's own experiences with difficult emotions and emphasize that these are transient states that the parent will cope with. Sometimes a better solution is to have a parent talk to a child who is not directly affected by the problem. Certainly this conversation is not easy and skilful (calm, factual, adapted to the child's abilities) its conducting may go beyond the possibilities of a parent experiencing job loss due to strong emotions that he experiences.

Since when do you think children should have their own money? Can teenagers in crisis situation take their pocket money or limit their pleasures? How do you do this so that you do not face resistance?

The decision to give pocket money to children should be part of a program of raising a child for rational financial management. For this reason, parents should themselves assess whether their child is ready for it. It is a good idea to teach children to save small money in a piggy bank - in this sense, a child can have their own money from pre-school. Investing capital from "mumps" should, however, be done under the control of adults. Small children are happy to spend money on sweets and toys.
Pocket money regularly paid to older children is a privilege that parents should think carefully about. It is worth determining with the child: pocket height; rules for withdrawing money; the scope of expenses that the child pays for himself, e.g. cinema, public transport tickets, and situations in which a pocket parent may suspend for various reasons, e.g. deterioration of the child's school performance. It can be clearly said here that in the event of deterioration of the financial situation of parents, pocket money will be reduced or suspended.

Where to look for help when, as a result of a serious financial situation, parents fall into depression and are unable to look after their children well? What should especially alert us in this respect?

Parents experiencing this type of difficulty may consider consulting a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist if they feel the situation is overwhelming. Talking to a psychologist can help relieve stress and find balance, which can be useful in overcoming problems. You can get free help at mental health clinics.