A guide to supporting parent and child wellbeing in the cost of living crisis

What is the “cost of living” situation?

The Cost-of-Living Crisis is the term used to describe the increased living costs that have made it more difficult for families and children to live comfortably. 

Currently, most countries have a global issue with children at risk. The UNICEF report on the crisis, covering 30 countries, found that more than half of all children live in poverty and are at risk of living below the poverty line.

Is the cost of living crisis putting children at risk?

The cost of living crisis is one of the most pressing issues in the UK today. It has a significant impact on everyone, but children are particularly affected.

The cost of living crisis is not just an economic issue. It impacts young people in particular, as they are the ones who are most likely to struggle financially. The situation is a serious problem for all UK kids, but it disproportionately impacts children from low-income families.

We should not forget that these children have to deal with the additional pressure during a cost of living crisis. This can severely affect their mental and physical health and make them more vulnerable to violence and abuse.

Adults often overlook a child’s perspective. The cost of living crisis has been affecting children for a long time. The high prices of food and other essentials mean that many families have to cut back on expenses, which means that children often suffer.

How is the cost of the living crisis impacting child-parent relationships?

The cost of living crisis has been affecting child-parent relationships for many years but is becoming more and more difficult as the value of goods and services continues to rise. Raising children is already challenging work, and not being able to provide them with everything they need, such as food, clothes, and schooling, creates more stress, worry and anxiety.

The pressure on parents is also increasing because they may have to work longer hours or take a second job to make up for the lack of pay in wages. This means that parents cannot spend enough time with their kids, which harms the parent-child relationship.

We need to remember that our children notice the changes in our lives, and they can pick up on our anxiety, which can contribute to changes in their mental health and wellbeing.

An effective way to deal with stress is to identify our emotions and seek support from those around us. It can take time for our children to learn this. We need a safe environment for them to explore their emotions and be heard. The more open the home learning environment, the easier it will be for children to express themselves.

Seven tips on supporting you and your family during this cost of living crisis:

1. Be mindful of how you discuss money matters with your child.

A big concern for parents is how they can provide for their children. Yet, many children are unaware of any financial worries unless these are communicated, and how they are shared can have a tremendous effect on a child’s mental health. We should avoid projecting our money worries onto our children.

2. You can change the focus.

Try to help your child see what they have rather than dwell on what they believe is missing. In the age of social media influence, this can help ease the pressure on the fear of missing out (FOMO) and help your child appreciate what is right in front of them. Try to be optimistic with your child when they have an experience that is not ideal. Children thrive on optimism, which can help them feel safe, loved, and supported during difficult times.

3. Keep an open dialogue

Let your child know they can always reach out to you as things happen or new questions arise and that there is no issue too small for them to share. Ask your child to share their opinion on problems and correct them if they have misunderstood. Ask them what they think can help and encourage them to speak up, so they feel like they’re part of the solution. This teaches kids that a problem is only as complex as you make it, not something that needs to be hidden away.

4. Don’t worry about presents. Practice being more present

Remember that your child will need you more than they will need what you can give to them. They might not realise it, but they are still developing and need reassurance you are here for them. Your presence can help your child feel safe and secure, which is a basis for healthy child development.

5. A time to learn new skills

Focus on other ways you can help your child cope with the cost of living crisis, such as teaching about budgeting and saving—this is an excellent way to help them learn new life skills and how to save for something they want. We have created some free guides that you might find helpful:

  1. Managing relationships during difficult times

  2. Emotional hygiene for children

  3. Family bonding

5. Get help, don’t suffer in silence.

It’s not just the cost of living crisis when people struggle with money and often feel they must keep it a secret from others. Data from the money and pensions service highlighted that:

  • 55% of people don’t feel comfortable opening up when they have worries about their financial situation.

  • 48% admitted that they have regularly worried about money recently.

Some people may not want to talk about their money worries because they feel ashamed, don’t want to burden others or were brought up being told never to mention money.

Avoiding talking about money is one way to try and keep your struggle private. But it only makes it more difficult in the long run. If you need help or support, reach out to someone you know. If that is not possible, here are some additional support services that you might find helpful: