Greece.... in crisis.
As the days go by, our country’s socio-economical situation keeps changing. The news focuses on information concerning our financial future; companies are shutting down and people are loosing their jobs. In 2011, families supported by “The Smile of the Child” increased up to 52%. The problem really exists and is no longer only words of “pessimists” but a harsh reality.
During this reality, more and more parents call the National Helpline for Children SOS 1056 or visit our Association’s Departments for Social and Psychological Support, so they can consult our psychologists on how to explain the crisis to their children.
The truth is that children are not cut off neither of their family nor of the society. They are active members of the society and they understand the reality in their own way. “My dad is unemployed”, “We no longer have money for toys”, “I will not go to our school’s trip because I do not want to be a burden for my mom and dad with more expenses”. In the Information Department for Children, Parents and Teachers, we regularly come across to such phrases. Some of these phrases make the parents admire their children for how mature they are; some others though, make them feel guilty. But what do these thoughts mean for children?
The financial crisis made us full of stress, fear, anger, lack of hope. Children are experiencing the exact same emotions, in addition to guilt. They feel guilty because they believe that they are responsible for seeing their parents stressed and sad. The more they experience this guilt, the more they try to please their parents (ex. by not going to a school’s trip); and when this doesn’t bring any result, their emotions of stress, guilt and anger grow.
The solution is not to isolate our children from reality. On the opposite, we should talk to them in a simple and comprehensible way and explain to them the current situation.
The first step is for the children to express themselves and share with their parents every possible fear or concern they may have. It is very important for them to express themselves, since there may be a similar reaction by their parents. If they do not do that, they keep their fears for themselves, and this could have an impact on them later on in their lives.
Following to that, parents should make a very important classification of what “I want” and what “I need”. According to this, they should clarify to their children that money is not the only source of joy. Maybe the lack of money limits their possibilities, but they still have important values in life that can fill them with happiness and optimism; values such as family and friendship.
The objective of such a discussion would be to show the children that they have strong parents, to depend on.
In periods of crisis, children have more than ever the need to have a relationship full of honesty, safety and trust with their parents.