Be upfront with them - Don't colour the family financial situation for the kids as this may bring up false expectations in the kids. You know, if the family can't afford to go on the big holiday this Christmas, let them know and the reasons why. Or if the big holiday is happening due to strong financial commitment from family, let them know that as well.
I have been thinking about this point today as I was watching son play with his toys. If we were in financial hardship, how would I let him know? I don't think I would not tell me about it, and I definitely not lie to him and tell him that everything is OK. It would him give a false sense of security, and if the financial hardship were to become something worse, the situation would be hard on his emotions.
I think I approach it in the following manner.
- Tell him that we will be short on money over the few months, and explain to him what it means to our lifestyle. The language that I would have to be suitable for my son's age.
- Show him some of mum's and dad's activities that will be changing.
- Allow him to select some of his activities that will be changing.
- Allow him to contribute in a positive manner towards the good family life.
- Most of all, I would show him a plan that would get the family out of the financial hardship. This would give him hope.
How would you approach this if you were in this situation?