With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to command media headlines and dominate discussions, it might be that some children are picking up on their parents worries. In fact, research has found that 93% of 11-18 year olds are aware of the cost-of-living crisis and of these, 61% worry that their family won’t have enough money to support them.
Even though we can’t always protect our children from hearing about worrying news, there are things we can do to involve them in the conversation and make sure they understand the full picture, which goes a long way in helping to mitigate their concerns.
Maintain open communication
Your children are likely more aware about issues going on in the world around them than you think and often can sense when parents are feeling anxious. It is important to open up honest conversations about what is going on, which can be really helpful in stopping any money concerns they may be having from spiralling behind closed doors.
Bringing up money and finances often, as a regular topic of conversation, might help your children understand why the purse-strings might be a little bit tighter. Open discussions can also help empower them to come forward with any worries they have, and ask you if they feel anxious about what is going on.
Putting them in the driver’s seat
If your family is having to make certain changes or cut back on some luxuries, it’s important to open a dialogue with your children about why you’re having to take these steps, and how they can help too. For example, with energy prices soaring, you may want to explain to your child why turning off the lights when they leave a room is so important. Quantifying small ways they can help ease the burden with an explanation as to why, can give them practical goals to work towards that can help them feel more in control of the situation.
This also can help them become responsible and conscious spenders. It is vital for children to understand the difference between wants and needs – why not include them in a conversation around why you aren’t picking up certain luxuries in the shop this month and why other, essential things remain on your shopping list?
You could even look at implementing this approach into their pocket money spend. For example, you could set them a challenge to budget their pocket money to cover one luxury and one essential and see if they are able to adapt their habits accordingly. Activities like these can help children become a little more mindful in their spending habits, and can help them understand how to make their money go a little further in trickier times.
As with anything, the most important thing is for your kids to feel included and considered when big changes are made. Uprooting their usual habits might only add to their worries, if they feel things are rapidly changing.
A way to approach this might be to include them in decisions about what household changes are made. For example, which luxuries do you want to skip this month and which shall you keep? You could do a family vote on which subscription service stays or which days out you want to prioritise over others.
Conscious discussions like these might seem small, but can work wonders in helping your children feel in control and understand the issues that affect them. And although difficult in the short term, these actions should help build kids into financially independent and responsible adults.