Finance Woes Due to Drought May Cause Trickle Down Anxiety Effect on Children
Many news broadcasts carry reports of the economic squeeze due to drought conditions on America’s farmers, resulting in a ripple effect on sometimes unforgotten victims: children.
Children may worry about their parents’ jobs, wondering whether their parents will have money for food or to pay the mortgage. They may be thinking of the possibility of having to move in with relatives when their own home are no longer accessible to them.
“This phenomenon is described as trickle down anxiety,” said Sallie Lide-Hooker, a regional Extension agent in a family and child development with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Symptoms include stomach aches, headaches and sleep problems. Children have difficulty focusing on learning when they wonder about: “Where will we live? Will the lights be on when I return home? Will I have something to eat? Will someone be able to pick me up-will they have money for gas for the car?”
Some children will be affected by foreclosure crisis and layoffs. Many middle class lifestyles are being altered because fathers cannot meet child support payments due to job loss.
Families may have to move from homes or apartments to mobile homes. Children may have to forego camp or other regular vacation experiences. Lifestyle changes may cause children to become angry easily or withdrawn. More children are exhibiting sleep disorders and school phobia. Younger children may become clingy and suddenly afraid of people breaking into their homes.
Noted psychologist George Shultz tells us that children today already deal with more everyday stress than previous generations because we have burdened them with too many worries. According to Shultz, “Parents are too open with their kids these days. Even high school kids aren’t old enough to handle that. I would not discuss the family’s financial situation with any child until they are adults. What’s the use? They’re just going to worry more.”
“Be alert and aware of any changes in your children’s behavior and help them cope with trickle down anxiety,” added Hooker..