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Talking to your children about pandemic-induced job loss

The country is grappling with the radical effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, lay-offs and pay cuts being part of them.

What a few parents are now scared to face is the inability to say no to certain things that their children look forward to – simply because they cannot or may not be able to afford it.

With the onset of economic distress, many professionals have been laid off, in some cases both parents. Parents may be able to conceal their fears about bringing food to the table; however, children are sharp and are quick to sense inhibitions.

“Job loss is a difficult subject for adults too, let alone children. However, kids take everything in black and white so the message needs to be age appropriate. This may involve some very difficult conversations to be had, however it is best to set the tone gradually and help them understand the situation,” says Dr Parul Tank, Consultant Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.

Often, parents are confused about utilising the ideal form of verbal communication when they sit their child down to explain things to them. During this discussion, make sure you do not set the expectations for the child, lest they be burdened with responsibility.

Here are a few tips to help in your conversation while talking about job loss with your child:

Stay calm when curious questions are being asked – aim for a candid conversation. Be honest without scaring them. Be cautious about setting promises, instead offer hope that the situation will pass and things will get better.

Do not overshare or underprepare, as highlighted predefine your communication basis the age of your child. For smaller kids, it is best to refrain from sharing such information; but if they have overheard the conversation then it is worthwhile telling them that job loss is not the end of the world and mom or dad will definitely find something better.

Older kids understand money and can get anxious about this news. It”s worthwhile telling them that you have saved for a rainy day, and are going to start looking at what”s new in the job market. Showing negativity or anxiety in front of kids is an absolute no-no.

If they have suggestions, hear them out patiently and thank them for it; it is important for them to feel that their opinions are valued, this will inevitably build the factor of trust with your child. The message should also be clear that staying healthy and fit in these trying times is more important, and that certain things happen in life for a reason. When one door closes, other doors open.

While securing your child”s emotional needs for them to stay positive, it is also important for you as a parent to take care of yourself. Make sure to treat yourself with self-respect by reassuring yourself that you are a devoted, conscious and focused parent even during this unforeseen situation. It is advisable to set a plan in place, consider your child and whole family”s requirements without getting hassled by emotions or the impending situation; trust in yourself and your close circle that you will get through this.

Make sure to consider the benefits of today”s healthcare options. Consult a psychologist via a telemedicine service if you are feeling the mental pressure.

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