How To Address Your Kids' Recession Fears

Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, child and adolescent psychologist, discussed how to talk with your children about the recession. CBS

The psychological effects of the recession on children, Seth Doane reported, are numerous, from difficulty concentrating in school to increased strain on family relationships.

So Wednesday on The Early Show, Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a child and adolescent psychologist, gave some advice on how to talk with your children about their recession worries.

Hartstein told The Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez the best thing is to ask children what they think about the recession, and to tell the truth about the family's situation.

"The fact is the more open and honest you are with your kids, the more open and honest they're going to be with you," Hartstein said. "And they're worried, they're hearing about it, they're seeing it impact their friends, their classmates, people in their lives, so they really know something's up."

Hartstein added that being honest and open to questions is also a key to talking to your child about their recession worries.

"If it's impacting your own household, you need to be open with your kids about that," she said. "...Be receptive to questions from your children and reassure them that everything is going to be OK."

Hartstein told Rodriguez that it's also important to leave the conversation open-ended, so children can ask questions later.

"...They may need to process it through themselves," she said.

Parents also should try to keep the household as stable as possible, not straying too often from family routines.

"The more stability you can provide, the better it will be," she said. "...It's really important that they try and see everything is going to be as even-keel as possible."

The recession, she added, may also be a chance to teach children a little about life.

Hartstein said, "We also want to make it an opportunity to teach them how to appreciate what they have, how to save, how to give back to people who may be less fortunate."

When Rodriguez asked how much information you should disclose, Hartstein said to strike a balance.

"There's really a fine line between too much information and not enough information… just let them know the bare bones."

Hartstein told Rodriguez that you have to make your talk age-appropriate, too.

"A 4-year-old is not going to be able to take in the same information as a 14-year-old."

You shouldn't make your children feel responsible in any way, Hartstein said.

"You need to reassure them that they are OK. Your job as their parent is to make sure that they are OK, and (that) you'll do the best you can by them."

Hartstein also said, "It's an opportunity to [be a] role model. How do you handle stress? How do you handle frustration? People are going to be fearful, and when people are fearful, their terror and their anxiety is at a high, and they may not act the right way. So it's a way to teach how to modulate that for your kids. It's great timing."
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