Economic outlook can be hard to explain to younger children

Published 12:39 am Wednesday, December 10, 2008

As parents ponder how to make this Christmas just as magical as last year’s, many household Christmas trees will hold fewer presents in light of a faltering economy.

Samantha Russell, school counselor for kindergarten through second grade students at Andalusia Elementary School, said no students or parents have come to her with questions about the current state of the economy, but some simple steps can be taken to improve a child’s understanding of tough economic times.

“My personal opinion is to be honest on a level they can understand,” Russell said. “At our home we have expressed to our children the concern about gas prices and how things have become more expensive. We always encourage the need to save money. Each parent has their own way of dealing with situations and with communicating with their children.”

Russell said parents should begin instilling a sense of ownership with their children at a young age and small chores are the perfect method of delivering important messages.

“Children are never too young to learn how to save,” she said. “Even making them save up to purchase something they want, working with them and giving them odd jobs to make money. These things help them have ownership in the things they want and the way in which they accomplish goals or tasks to earn rewards.”

Russell said she feels, above all else, parents should never feel obligated to sugarcoat reality for their children.

“I think parents should be honest with their children about the economy,” she said. “Say things have become more expensive. Even when times are good we should always focus on the things that matter most — family and kindness to others.”