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Supporting children through the cost of living crisis



Families across the country are feeling the pinch amid the cost-of-living crisis – and it’s affecting children’s wellbeing and mental health.

A recent survey by YoungMinds revealed the cost of living is the leading cause of anxiety in children and young people. Just over 50 per cent of 11- to 25-year-olds said they had felt angry, unhappy, stressed, or anxious over money in the last three months.

So, how do you support your kids’ wellbeing through the cost of living crisis?

Be honest, but stay positive

It’s important to be honest with your kids about difficult topics like the cost of living crisis, especially if they start asking questions. Children are children are very perceptive and might have noticed you’re more stressed about money than usual or you’re starting to cut back on treats. There’s no point deceiving children by saying: ‘It’s fine’ when things aren’t, especially if your family is struggling or you anticipate you may struggle.

But it’s important to stay positive while doing so, and making sure your children feel safe and secure – keep the conversation upbeat by saying things like: ‘Look, it’s going to be difficult for us. We’re going to have to make tough decisions. But you are our priority above all else.’

Keep it age appropriate

Make sure to keep the information you share with them age and maturity appropriate - a five-year-old will react very differently to a 15-year-old. But a good basic rule is to relate the conversation to how it will impact their everyday life.

Try to relate it to everyday issues and making it real is the best way to try to explain the difficulties that they’re going through. You can use examples of subscriptions like mobile phone bills or Netflix.

Get help from other resources

There are resources out there to help families who are struggling. If you are worried about your child’s mental health and wellbeing, you can contact YoungMinds’ parents helpline for detailed advice, emotional support and signposting about a child or young person up to the age of 25. 

If you need help explaining the cost of living crisis or anything tricky in the news, resources like Newsround can be fantastic for kids to keep them updated on what’s going on in the world without overwhelming them. 

Be mindful of how you discuss it

Keep the conversation with your children as simple as possible. Give them the facts and create the space and time to respond to their questions and help them understand.

Talk and teach your kids to develop an attitude of pulling together, supporting each other and looking after each other.

Teaching and guiding children how to handle money is a really important thing as it’s also a practical way to develop their sense of independence and self-esteem and you are also teaching them a very important long term life skill too!

Involving your children in cost-saving solutions

Get everyone onboard with the changes you may need to make. If you’re cutting back on streaming subscriptions, have a family vote on which one to cancel – that way your kids feel part of the decision and won’t be so resentful.

You can also ask your children what they think they could do to help and devise a family plan together. This could include small steps such as: switching appliances off when not needed or wearing an extra layer to reduce central heating needs.

Make sure to plan free family activities together too, so that the changes feel positive as well as cost-saving. We always look for free activities for kids to do during half terms and summer holidays, so keep an eye on news section on our website.

Look After Your Own Wellbeing

The pressure of the cost of living crisis might affect you in lots of different ways. We know we simply cannot change our financial circumstances overnight and yet sometimes we can focus so much on our children, but it’s very important to look after your own mental health too. Think of things you can do to help you look after yourself – sleep, exercising and social time are all things that promote your well-being and will help you feel better able to support your children.