In difficult times, children can be more vulnerable than adults. They may lack an understanding of events, as well as effective coping skills. Parents can help children during hard times by listening patiently and accepting their feelings of anger, grief, and sadness. Children are often much more aware of parents worries that their mother or father realizes. It helps when parents are able to appropriately acknowledge their own emotions and provide an example of how to cope.
Children react to stress in a variety of ways, but age is a factor. When times are tough, adults should observe children closely for any signs . It's important to be alert for changes in behaviour or regression, the temporary backward movement to earlier stages of development.
Stress can come from the environment a child lives in or from certain circumstances and changes. The type of stress is called situational stress. Some of the stress factors that have the greatest impact on a child's daily life include parents divorce, moving, family financial problems, substance abuse by a family member, illness, and the death of a loved one. The way the parents handle the situation has a huge impact on a the child's stress level. One of the worst things a parent or caregiver can do is to say "You shouldn't feel that way". Instead they should first accept the child's feelings and use them as a starting point for trying to offer help. A child's other caregivers can also play a part in helping the child cope.
Moving to a new community, and sometimes even to a different neighbourhood, interrupts friendships, affects school performance, and disrupts activities. Moving can be especially difficult for older children because of the importance they place on peer relationships.
Adults can help children by explaining why a move is necessary and by including them in making decisions. After the move, parents should help their children get involved in activities that allow them to meet others their age. They might sign up for swimming or art lessons, and check out other group opportunities, such as sotry hour at the library.
Family money problems can stem from a variety of factors. Unemployment, gambling, shopping addiction, illness, medical bills, and poor money management are just a few. As leaders of the family, parents often set the tone for their children's comfort and stress levels. When families are struggling with finances, parents should make a special effort not to argue about money in front of children or take out worries on them. When money is scarce , older children may worry about what will happen top them, without spending money, adolescents may be concerned about loss of status in their peer group. However, its is important that parents not hide money problems from older children. Parents need to be clear about possible consequences of the problems and the need to cut back on spending.