Helping Your Children Cope With Stress

Wednesday, May 27th 2009, 9:30 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, OK -- There is a lot of stress these days on families and that includes kids.

Brenda Butchee is a child and parenting specialist with the Tulsa City-County Health Department. She says it has been a tough year for families, some dealing with the loss of a job or perhaps losing their home.

Butchee offers some ideas on how to help your child cope with the changes, like taking advantage of the many resources available to help families save and adjust to the changing economy and not arguing or fighting about money in front of children at any age.


  • « Do talk with your children about the economy at their developmental level
  • « Do provide an environment that children can ask questions or express their fears or worries
  • « Do make sure that the feeling of "hopefulness" comes through
  • « Do encourage family involvement and participation in money savings ideas
  • « Do monitor the influx of "doom and gloom" information that is constantly in the news
  • « Do take advantage of the many resources available to help families save and adjust to the changing economy


  • « Don't-lie to children- they can and do "sense" that you are worried or stressed
  • « Don't- avoid talking to children about the economy and the impact it has or may have on your family
  • « Don't let the stress and worry about the economy reach the point where it negatively affects the relationship with your children
  • « Don't argue or fight about money in front of children at any age

Benefits for the family

  • « Spending more time as a family
  • « Eating In- more family meals- cost saving
  • « More play time at home
  • « More basic lifestyle
  • « Opportunity to teach valuable lessons about money
  • « Learn about available community resources that offer low-cost or free activities
  • « Makes families more resourceful
  • « A time to grow closer as a family
  • « Children learn the difference between "wants" and "needs"

Developmental tips to keep in mind when talking about the economy with children

Ages 3-5 years- This is the "play age." Children like to copy the adults around them. They are also learning about self-control.

Positive:  Model ways to cope with stress and be a role model for ways to maintain self-control. Parents can describe their own feelings out loud and use self-talk-

 "I am starting to feel wound up like a rubber-band. I don't like that feeling, so I am going to sit down for a minute and take some deep breaths."

Negative:  Parents who blame everyone else, show their anger in a destructive way or lose control are likely to raise children who cope with their own feelings in a similar way.

Ages 6-12 years- School age children are capable of learning, creating and accomplishing new skills and knowledge, thus developing a sense of industry. 

Positive:  Encourage active involvement in the discussion and planning of how your family will adjust to the current economic conditions. This is the best age for teaching more in depth the concepts of money- earning, saving and spending.  They love to come up with "lists" of things that the family can all do to save money.

Negative: Reacting negatively toward children when they continue to "want" things will make them feel inferior. When parents walk around hopeless, presenting a picture of gloom and doom, they are missing an opportunity to help children learn how to be optimistic and proactive toward a family issue.

Ages 12-18 years- The "identity" age- Young adolescents are attempting to find their own identity and struggling with social interactions. They have more involved thinking skills and are more likely to express themselves through talking. 

Positive:  Parents can explain more about the way finances work and let their adolescent express their feelings about it. They may want to talk to you about getting a job to help ease your wallet. Let the child help "brainstorm" about ways that the family can make positive changes.

Negative:  Parents who leave the adolescent out of the situation may increase the likelihood of their child experiencing depression or anxiety.

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