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ECONOMIC CRISIS: CHILDREN

As I have written elsewhere there have always been natural and man-made disasters. Children have always been frightened by bad things happening in their world and parents have always tried to both protect and comfort their children. What has changed is media coverage. You have already noticed there is a lot of repetition on 24/7 news channels. I just heard about a 2-year-old- boy who asked his father if he had enough money. The parents told me the child was playing in the room while they watched the news and gave no indication that he was paying s any attention.

Parents, worried themselves (see ECONOMIC CRISIS: PARENTS), are nonetheless key to how their children react and deal with the stresses.

Here are the Heins suggestions for best dealing with whatever is happening to your family and to our country.

1) TALK ABOUT IT.

This is no time to try to protect your children from reality. First of all it never works. The little boy in the first paragraph figured out there is a money problem from TV and though he is too young to know much about money he knows you need it. Your children will intuit that you are worried and will assume the worst if you don’t tell them what is happening. Or they will assume it is their fault that you are worried.

Be honest. Don’t conceal the truth, lie, gloss over the bad parts, or pretend nothing is happening. Children are terrified when they realize something bad happened and their parents won’t talk about it. Children actually feel safer when they see that their parents are troubled by a bad thing but are willing to talk about it.

By the way I was raised in a family that did NOT talk about money. I was told it was not polite to ask people money questions like How much money do you make? or What did that cost? And you were not supposed to tell others how much you paid for something lest they think you are bragging. Or ask your parents questions about how much money they had. But I could tell when my parents were worried so I worried too.

When you talk to your children be sure to EXPRESS YOUR OWN FEELINGS. “The money crisis is going to hurt lots of people including us. We are very upset but we will figure out what we have to do.” Parents are role models. They show their children how to deal with strong feelings. Parents answer children’s unspoken questions: How am I supposed to feel about this? How am I supposed to act?

2) KEEP SAYING THAT WE’LL BE OK AS A FAMILY EVEN THOUGH TIMES ARE TOUGH .

3) INVOLVE YOUR CHILDREN IN MAKING FAMILY DECISIONS ABOUT HOW TO CUT BACK SPENDING.

4) EMPOWER YOUR CHILDREN.

Suggest ways they can look up prices or clip and file coupons.

It’s OK to say those words you never thought you would have to say like, “We can’t afford to send you away to college as we planned so let’s find out about the community college.” or “We will celebrate Christmas by being together as a family but we can’t afford to buy any toys or electronics this year.” Read the first chapter of “Little Women” together. The March family survived their Christmas without any presents and even found a way to help a family who had less than they did.

TELL YOUR FRIENDS THEY CAN GET A PROFESSIONAL, PERSONAL, AND PRIVATE ANSWER TO THEIR PARENTING QUESTIONS BY GOING TO info@ParentKidsRight.com