Money Stressed? Your Kids Are Too.

Last Updated Nov 30, 2009 2:49 PM EST

Roughly seven in 10 adults --and one out of every three kids--are worried about money, according to the American Psychological Association's annual Stress in America survey.

Of course, parents have been money-stressed for years. Last year, money stresses hit a peak with eight in 10 adults worried about their jobs, the economy and the personal state of their family's finances. Roughly 71% cited money as a key source of stress this year, according to the APA.

But this year's survey found that adults drastically underestimate the stress their kids are experiencing. Only about 18% of adults thought their kids were worried about money, when 30% of kids reported finances as a significant source of stress.

"My family having enough money" is the second most-common stress point for kids, ages eight to 17, according to this annual poll. In fact, kids are far more likely to say that they're stressed about money than they are to be stressed about relationships with their boy or girl friends(4%); physical appearance (26% of teens) or getting pressured into high-risk activities, such as drinking and drugs(3%).

The only thing kids are more likely to be stressed by is the pressure to do well in school, which stresses out 44% of younger kids and 43% of teens, according to the APA.

The psychologists group says that parents need to be careful about how they express money worries to avoid having their children overreact to them. Young children may take comments like "we're headed to the poor house" literally, and be convinced that they are about to lose their homes. Talking calmly and asking the kids about their concerns can ease the stress, the group said.

Families can also use their financial situation to emphasize core values--such as friendship, charity and spending time together--while minimizing expectations for material goods. By talking openly about money concerns, parents can encourage their kids to do smart long-term moves, such as open a savings account, while simultaneously explaining that the chance of getting the Xbox or iPod might be slim this year, the group said.

Taking after-dinner walks and playing board games are healthy and inexpensive ways to reduce stress for the whole family, the group added.

Meanwhile, parents need to pay attention to whether their children are exhibiting any of the physical signs of stress, such as headaches, eating disorders and loss of sleep. Roughly 36% of kids reported having headaches in the past month, while 45% said they've had trouble sleeping. The group offers additional tips on managing money stresses, as well as a quiz to help identify how stressed you might be.

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