Providing Emotional Support to Children During Economic Hardships

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I received a request from a friend in my close circle. She is a mother and reasonably concerned about the best ways to face the coming economic downturn heading their way. I have done some research and compiled some of my personal experiences.

Please note I am not a specialist in children’s psychology. I’m just a single dad who was gifted with an incredibly loving, warm family.

Maybe we were sometimes scraping here and there but managed to make it decently, all things considered, in the 40 years since I was a child. Being the owner of a fully paid home and a couple of land patches for future development, added to a CNC machine and basic tools for woodworking is a remarkable achievement for our nation’s standards.

My son has been through a full-blown economic collapse. Here’s how I handled it.

Economic problems are hard on kids.

Make no mistake: economic hardship does have a significant impact on our children’s emotional well-being. I believe this is a feeling we all share.

In times of economic hardship, children and teenagers often bear the brunt of the struggle. The impact of an economic crisis can be particularly overwhelming for families living in poverty, as they face constant financial stress and uncertainty. Children who live in these conditions are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. They may also have difficulty sleeping, concentrating, and learning. I have seen this for a while on my kid, and we are working on it. I still remember how bad I felt sometimes back in the day.

Financial struggle can have a profound effect on the emotional well-being of children. It’s important to acknowledge that their experiences may differ depending on their age and developmental stage. Younger children may not fully comprehend the complexities of the scenario; but can still sense the tension and stress within the family, and my kid went through some bitter experiences at a very young age, even though we tried to protect him as much as we could (you may want to read about that in this article). Teenagers, on the other hand, may be more aware of the economic challenges and may feel a greater sense of responsibility or worry about their future. How they react to that, it’s another issue.

Here’s how I’ve handled it.

I talk to him about the situation.

It is important to talk to your children about the economic situation in a way that is age-appropriate and very honest. We have always been good at communicating with each other our ideas since he was a small child. This was a process that took countless ice cream trips on my bike to his favorite cafeteria, donuts, home pizza making with his mom, cooking videos, and many, many nights reading him stories although he was quite the reader by age 4 and a half, like myself. Let them know that you are aware of the challenges that they are facing and that you are there to support them, no matter what. He knows I am doing my best to keep him fed and pay for his school.

It’s paramount to understand this: they are going to become anxious. We can’t avoid that 100%. But we certainly can mitigate that feeling.

It is a good moment, though, to make children notice that avoiding some vices is a good practice; spending money on alcohol, for instance, when they don’t have too much to eat is something we don’t want our grown children doing.

Signs of emotional distress in children

Recognizing the signs of emotional distress in our children is vital for providing timely support. Every child may respond differently to economic hardship, and, according to my research and a years-long observation as a single dad, there are common indicators that everyone should be aware of. Changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from activities, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and increased irritability or aggression, all of them indicate something is not good.

Increased anxiety, excessive worry, or frequent tearfulness. They may express fear about the financial situation within the family, or exhibit regressive behaviors like bedwetting or clinginess. It is crucial to pay attention to these signs and address them promptly to prevent long-term emotional consequences.

Be a listening ear.

Children need to feel like they can talk to their parents about their worries and fears. Be a patient and understanding listener, and avoid judging or criticizing them. Mine sometimes get pushy, but it is not easy at this age to understand how deep all of the branches of our industry sank under this crushing regime. He gets stressed, but I always try to keep the same more or less relaxed, patient mood that made me navigate the 2020 waters and beyond. The fear of not having enough food, shelter, or other basic needs can cause significant distress and impact a child’s emotional well-being.

By learning skills (I’m considering seriously teaching him to weld and use an angle grinder, as those seem to be the only work instruments he won’t break so easily) and reassuring the child this is not going to happen we can remove a great deal of the concerns. My parents are (still!) a great support. I usually dealt with my stuff the best I could; but modern parenting is different, it seems. I have come to accept it, but at the same time, I remind him constantly not to be a snowflake, and to man up if he wants to find a great girl someday who admires the fine man he is destined to be. I have never dismissed or minimized his feelings: I know this can undermine his perception and sense of security and trust. I listen to him, and after that, hug him and make some hot chocolate. We both always feel better after that.

Help them with the development of coping mechanisms and skills.

Teach your children healthy coping skills, such as relaxation techniques, exercise, and spending time with loved ones. These skills can help them to manage stress and anxiety. Exercising is especially important.

We usually walk or jog together. In Lima, we used to go to a nearby park, as the fair weather is much better for jogging. So we stretch, warm up, and practice some Muay Thai in the air, in dry runs, at low speed. It is quality time that he will remember. The same as us baking bread together for the family. Use your sense of humor. I’m not advising you to take things lightly, but using some not-so-good events to generate laughs is a skill that will be a wonderful source of good, warm memories later on time.

And THIS is something I can grant. Imagine you’re cooking dinner. “Jee. All right, Junior…I have good news and bad news” -Jr: “What are the good ones?” -Dad: “I burned a LOT of calories today” -Jr: “Cool, and the bad ones?” -Dad: “It was the pizza for dinner”.

Watching the kids stare at you is priceless. (Smile)

Maintain a positive attitude.

It is crucial to maintain a positive attitude, even during difficult times. Let your children know that you believe in them and that you are hopeful for the future.

Let’s use a personal example. When we were in Lima, Peru, we experimented: dried some meat under the scorching summer sun (this is more detailed on my Patreon page). He loved it! When he was with his mother, they mostly ate eggs, rice, beans, chicken, fish, and vegetables; however, I’m a different kind of mammal. I need beef, eat vegetables too, but lots of fruits, cheese, yogurt, milk, and oatmeal. And I know he does need beef, also. Then, once one of my temp contracts finally ended, he was with me at home. I found it odd that he didn’t ask for anything special like going to eat outside. After a few questions, he told me that he knew I didn’t have too much money those days, and could not ask too much. So I took out the bag with all the dried meat I had prepared, almost a kilo, and his look was incredible. So I simply told him “That’s why one has to be prepared, kiddo. Stockpile in the good times and you will have always something to eat”. We made arepas with that jerky, some pasta, sandwiches…real feast. He will remember that for life, and will never forget his dad was a provider.

Seek professional help if needed.

If your child gives signals of difficulties in coping with economic hardship, you may want to seek professional help. A therapist can provide them with additional support and guidance. They do not know how to face many things in life, and shouldn’t be too concerned about the domestic economy if they can´t do anything yet. The feeling of impotence can be overwhelming for them. I know because my kid insinuated he would love to have the power to change things. Now he knows sometimes it’s not possible. But he knows he won’t be alone and that we will take care of him. And it is wonderful to see he has ditched most of those concerns.

This bonding process between my kid and I has been so delightful, that I can say I am enjoying fatherhood very much. Too bad it was only one, as the crisis and our unsolved problems led to the dissolution of the relationship between me and his mom.

Not that I regret it. Sometimes you can’t fix things.

Why is this necessary?

Because the good memories will take us through hard times. Using your sense of humor helps a lot. Our people laugh at everything including themselves. Maybe a little bit too much, but it seems to be working to avoid so much pressure and discouragement from building up the economic troubles.

During tough times, providing emotional support can go a long way in shaping a child’s future. Just be nice to them, and make sure to tell them how much you love and will take care of them until your last breath.

Thanks for reading!

And I look forward to hearing your comments!

Stay safe, and keep tuned.

What are your thoughts?

Have you ever had to discuss economic hardship with your children? Do you have any advice? Any stories to share?

Let’s discuss it in the comments.

About Jose

Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has an old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Jose and his younger kid are currently back in Venezuela, after the intention of setting up a new life in another country didn’t  go well. The SARSCOV2 re-shaped the labor market and South American economy so he decided to give it a try to homestead in the mountains, and make a living as best as possible. But this time in his own land, and surrounded by family, friends and acquaintances, with all the gear and equipment collected, as the initial plan was.

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Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • I think the most important thing that we can do for children during times of hardship is first, be level with them (depending on their age) and spend more time talking about solutions to those issues.

    For instance, you’ve lost your job and you have to cut one of your child’s sports activities. Explain to the child that you won’t be able to pay for the baseball activity, but you will have much more time to spend helping them with their batting practice or you’ll be able to play catch with them now because you have more time since you don’t currently have to go to work.

  • My kid is 16 and goes grocery shopping with us often. She’s old enough to be appalled by price increases, and she’s feeling overwhelmed by how difficult it is to find a halfway decent job as a teen, let alone become self-supporting enough to pay for an over-priced apartment when she’s older. She says she can’t imagine moving out until she’s in her late twenties. She’s good with her hands, so we’re teaching her practical skills.

  • It’s a tough world out there, even in the best of times.

    I think instilling self-respect is important; keeping clean and wearing clean and neatly maintained clothes, speaking with proper grammar, providing for oneself as much as possible and showing others respect as well.

    Having a good moral compass is also crucial.

    Self-respect is a kind of armor against a world that can be cruel and is getting worse.

  • Jose,
    This is an issue I am about to bring up in my Dear Diary stories.
    It is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
    However, reading some headlines, might not just be limited to children, but some in their twenties.

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