Nine Tips to Make Home Office Kids Recession-Resistant

Jeff Zbar

The recession stinks.

Just don't tell the kids.

Billings are down. Clients have gone belly up. And the business bottom line is feeling the effects. Many believe it's time for parents to play Houdini and with a little sleight of hand, control what kids see and hear about the recession - and hopefully limit its impact on their lives.

No one's saying anything about lying, or breaking out the burlap sack and wrapping them tight for the next 12 to 60 months (depending on whether you believe the Obama Administration or Warren Buffett about the speed of recovery).

But, as my father used to say, a little editing in what's said - or in this case, allowed to be overheard or consumed via the media - might work wonders to keep little minds from fearing the worst.

Nova Southeastern University and the American Academy of Pediatrics have released a guide to help children cope with the recession. Available in English and Spanish, the AAP public education guide offers families six suggestions to help children get through tough economic times...

-Take care of yourself: Children depend on adutls around them to feel secure. It's important that you take care of yourself. If you are worried or upset, your children will be too. Even very young children can tell when something is wrong.

-Limit TV and other media time: When children hear or overhear news coverage or adults talking about financial problems, like job cuts and people losing homes, their little minds get to worrying. Try to limit your own exposures to the media, especially when you are with children.

-Choose your words carefully: Kids don't understand what's going on. But the fear factor can have an impact nonetheless. Comments like, "We just lost your college savings," or, "I might lose my job," or, "We can't afford that," can upset kids. In times of uncertainty, be reassuring. For example, "We have enough money to pay for food and our house, but we may need to spend less on eating out." Or tell them, "We're OK. We saved money for times like these."

-Talk to you chidren: Kids can sense stress and become anxious or upset if no one just tells them what's going on. Don't try to explain Wharton Business School theory about what causes a recession. And leave the politics and blame-gaming out. All they need is a basic explanation of why people are worried and what impacy it may have on them personally.

-Tell your doctor: Kids being concerned is natural. But watch your children closele for signs of stress or changes in their behavior, mood, friendships, or school performance. If something's awry, talk to their primary care clinician or other mental health professionals as needed.

-Be sensitive to each child's needs: It's important to talk at each child's level. What and how much information you share depends on the age and development level of your children. In general, older children will want and benefit from more detailed information; younger children and those children with developmental delays or intellectual disabilities will benefit from simpler and briefer informatrion. But for all children, start with asking them what they may already have heard or offere a simple explanation at first. Then ask if they have any more questions. Children who already had problems with anxiety or other emotional problems may be particularly upset or worried about the economic situation and benefit from more direct advice and additional reassurance.

-Plan family meetings: Family meetings are a very effective way to encourage healthy communication. It can be a time when family members learn how to get along with each other better. Parents can also use the time to share family values and cultural beliefs.

-Another tip: Volunteer: The downturn in the economy apparently has inspired an
uptick in community service, notes USA Today. Giving to others help deflect attention, and let little ones know that no matter how bad it gets, others probably have it worse.

-Show, and Tell: Let your kids spend some time getting to know what Mommy or Daddy do in the home-based business. Let htem know that, at least for your household, it's business as usual.

Jeff Zbar, The Chief Home Officer
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.


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