ORLANDO, Fla. — COVID-19 has forced businesses to shut their doors. Employees in the entertainment, service, and beauty industries — among others — are not working. Also, huge losses on Wall Street are eroding many American’s retirement savings. But adults aren’t the only ones feeling money worries right now.
A big stack of bills and a small paycheck or no paycheck at all can add up to lots of stress. Money worries felt by parents can impact kids, too. Clinical psychologist at University of Central Florida Kimberly Renk, PhD, first began studying the mental health of young kids shortly after the economic recession a decade ago.
The social scientists recruited 119 families with young children living near a large university. More than half of those families earned less than $50,000 a year. Parents reported economic pressures, like having a tough time finding a job or difficulty paying bills.
They also completed questionnaires that measured parenting stress or how financial strain impacts the way parents interact with children.
“The more economic impacts they had, the more parenting stress occurs and then in turn, the more difficulties their little ones were having,” Renk told Ivanhoe.
When parents had higher stress, kids displayed internalizing behaviors, like increased anxiety, or externalizing behaviors, like agitation and acting out.
Renk said it’s important to remember even young kids hear and understand a lot more than parents give them credit for. So, parents should talk about their money stress and reassure kids their needs will be met.
Renk said parents should say things such as, “It’s not something you have to worry about. That’s mom’s job. That’s dad’s job. That’s for grownups to make sure we have what we need, and I’m working really hard at that.”
Experts also suggest that parents feeling money stress should actively search out ways to reduce the stress, so it doesn’t impact their children.
Reach out to social networks for emotional support, even if you feel it’s awkward or inappropriate to talk about money. Also, make sure you are getting adequate sleep and exercise.