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:

5 strategies for solving problems & reducing anxiety

We all experience some problems in our lives, and we all experience anxiety from time to time. We are constantly looking for ways to solve those problems and reduce anxiety. When we are faced with a problem, our first instinct is to try to solve it. Here are five strategies that can help you to solve your problems and reduce your anxiety.

1. Meditation

Meditation is a great way to reduce stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. It improves the quality of sleep, which can help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer or diabetes. Meditation also helps people regulate their emotions better by teaching them how to focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the future or regretting the past.

2. Exercise

This an excellent way to reduce stress levels because it releases endorphins which make you feel good! This also helps with reducing depression symptoms because exercise has been shown to improve self-esteem, mood and confidence – all things that contribute to a person’s happiness levels.

3. Practice Gratitude

Practising gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to improve your mental health. It’s a simple practice that can make you happier and healthier. It is one of the most powerful ways to improve your mental health.

4. Journal

Keep a journal or diary to keep track of your thoughts, feelings, and actions during stressful periods so that you have an idea of what caused it in the first place and how to avoid it in the future. Write down what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. This can help you put things into perspective, reducing your anxiety levels.

5. Make a list

Make a list of all the possible solutions to your problem. Take some time to think about the problem. This can be done by writing down what you know about the problem and then drawing out any possible solutions that come to mind.

Discover how you can be kind to your mind​

Emotional Hygiene is our quick and easy online course with lots of expert advice and practical tips to help you stay on top of your mental health and wellbeing.

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A guide to coping with Christmas stress

Do we experience Christmas stress?

According to YouGov:

    • over two in five people in the UK have felt stressed during the festive season, while about one in four has struggled with anxiety or depression.

    • Feeling stressed in December is common, with more than two in five saying people saying they’ve experienced it.

    • Anxiety has affected three in ten, while a quarter have felt depressed. And just under a quarter say they have been lonely.

    • Anxiety and loneliness are most prevalent among people who are aged between 25 to 34, at between 31% and 40%.

    • People who are out of work also struggle more than other groups: 47% say they’ve felt stressed, 42% depressed and 39% anxious.

    • Christmas is especially tough on women’s mental health. While women are only four per cent more likely to say Christmas affects them negatively, the difference is more glaring regarding stress and anxiety.

    • While only 35% of men have felt stressed around Christmas, for women, the figure is 51%.  Over a third of women also say they’ve felt anxious, whereas less than a quarter of men say the same.

Why do we experience Christmas stress?

Christmas is the time of year when people are expected to be happy and jolly. But, surprisingly, the data shows that it is also the time when many people experience Christmas stress. There are a few reasons why:

  • We want to make our loved ones happy, and sometimes we can’t afford to buy them everything they want.
  • Financial troubles and the pressure to provide a memorable and meaningful Christmas for your children comes at a time when you may be struggling financially or relationally.
  • We have too much on our plate in general. Too many commitments, overworked, and insufficient sleep – so it’s hard to find time for everything and still take care of ourselves. If you are running around all day in preparation for the Christmas holiday, it can be tough to find time for everything. This often leads to feeling overwhelmed and frazzled.
  • It is hard to keep up with all the expectations that society has for us during this time of year: We are supposed to be nice all the time, spend a lot of money on gifts, and have an endless supply of Christmas cheer.
  • Lack of family bonding time: If one or more family members are not able to come home for Christmas because they’re too busy with their own lives, it can feel like something is missing from the celebration (even if those people have their own traditions that they partake in).

Tips for managing Christmas Stress

Happy Family no Christmas stress

We all know that we should get things done early, but it can be hard to get yourself to do it. The Christmas holidays are a time for family and friends, so it’s natural to want to spend time with them instead of working on your Christmas list. But if you’re not careful, you might end up feeling more stressed than ever before when you realise that there’s no way you’ll finish everything on your list in time.

The Christmas holidays are often associated with family gatherings, shopping and decorations. This can lead to stress for many people. It is important to take care of your mental health during this time of year by:

  1. Taking care of yourself physically by eating right and getting enough sleep.

  2. Avoid over-committing by setting boundaries with others around what you can and can’t do.

  3. Spend time with family and friends while still taking care of yourself.

  4. Be honest with yourself and others. It is ok to say “no”

Tips for dealing with the holiday shopping

To make the holiday season a little less stressful, we have compiled seven ways to deal with Christmas shopping:

  1. Make a list and stick to it

  2. Check your budget in advance.

  3. Avoid marketing distractions.

  4. Shop online and avoid crowds.

  5. Give yourself time to return gifts and exchange purchases.

  6. Keep your receipts handy in case you need to return anything.

  7. Be realistic about what you want and what you can give.

Finally for now

Relaxed family, no Christmas stress

Christmas is a time when people have a lot of stress and anxiety. Hopefully, you were able to find some useful tips that will help you get through the season without feeling so pressured and look after yourself and others in the process.

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Positive parenting

7 Tips for positive parenting

What is positive parenting?

Positive parenting is a parenting approach that focuses on building a strong, supportive relationship between parent and child. It is based on the belief that children can thrive when they feel loved and supported. 

Many parents fall into the trap of thinking that they must be perfect parents – positive parenting is not about being perfect but making a deliberate effort to create a positive, nurturing environment for your child. It’s about being attuned to your child’s needs and reacting in a way that will help them feel loved, respected and supported. 

It s not straight forward to define positive parenting, as there are many different ways to parent positively. However, at its core, positive parenting is about establishing a warm, supportive, and nurturing relationship with your child. It is also about setting clear expectations and limits, providing consistent discipline when needed and teaching your child how to make good choices helping them to develop into a responsible and independent adult.

The benefits of positive parenting

Positive parenting focuses on raising children in a manner that emphasises their positive behaviours and traits while also providing love and support. This approach can have many benefits for both children and parents. some of these include:

  • improved communication between parent and child
  • increased feelings of warmth and closeness between parent and child
  • greater cooperation from children
  • improved self-esteem in children
  • increased academic success in children
  • better social skills in children
  • fewer behavioural problems in children
  • improved mental health for both parents and children
  • stronger parent-child relationships
  • a more positive outlook on life for both parents and children

7 tips for positive parenting

There is no one answer to the question of how to be a positive parent, as every family is different and every child is unique. However, some general tips can help you create a positive parenting style that works for you and your family. This is probably the most important tip on the list. It’s easy to get frustrated with our kids, but it’s important to remember that they’re still learning and growing. Be patient with them and yourself, and try to take a step back when things get heated.

Spend time with them.

Quality time is so important for kids. Make sure to schedule regular one-on-one time with each of your kids, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day. This will give you a chance to really connect with them and build a strong relationship.

Be present.

When you’re spending time with your kids, make sure to put away all distractions and really be present with them. This means no phones, no TVs, and no game consoles.

Set Clear expectations and boundaries.

Your child must know what is expected of them regarding behaviour and responsibilities. This will help to reduce conflict and provide a sense of security for your child.

Encourage your child to express their emotions.

It is important to validate your child’s feelings and help them to understand and cope with them. This will help them to develop healthy emotional regulation skills.

Be a role model for your child.

Show them how to handle emotions positively, and lead by example regarding respectful behaviour.

Focus on the positive.

When you catch your child doing something right, praise them for it. This will encourage them to continue doing things right and help them feel good about themselves. Be positive yourself. Children are more likely to imitate their parent’s behaviour than to listen to what they say. If you want your children to be positive, be positive yourself.

Invest in your parenting skills

What if you could become a more positive parent today. . .and every day after that? Discover the keys to changing your child’s behaviour through our popular online course Parents for Life

Positive parenting next steps

When it comes to positive parenting, the focus is on building a foundation of love and trust, while also providing structure and limits. It’s important to remember that every family is different and what works for one, may not work for another. The most important thing is to find what works best for you and your child and to always keep the lines of communication open.

Positive parenting is something that comes naturally to some and is a learned skill for others. There are countless benefits to positive parenting, and that is one of the reasons why we created ‘Parents for Life’ an online course to help you become a more effective and positive parent. 

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A personal boundary equation

Dr Ahmad Yuhanna, Psychotherapist and Psychologist shared with us in the Wellbeing Cafe an insightful boundary equation to help you managing your time and energy: T + V+ R = M.

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Become a wellbeing champion

Monica and Joana Smith have been volunteering for decades. They both said they have the volunteers bug. When they see people helping others in need it encourages them to join in and help people in their community.

We are delighted to have Monica and Joana as volunteer wellbeing champions at the Institute of wellbeing. 

In this video we hear why they do what they do and we hope that their “why” inspires you to become a wellbeing champion

You can make the difference
We recognise that Wellbeing Champions are the backbone of community transformation projects.

We offer a free online course designed to help you understand more about the Wellbeing Champion initiative and the tools and resources that are ready to help you start making a difference to families in your community.

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Random Acts of Kindness – Winner 2021

Patrick Hutchinson came first place in our Random Act of Kindness competition. He continues to serve his community wholeheartedly. He happily gave up his time to help us on our Superhero park trail and handed out the goodie bags to all the lovely children who took part.

Patrick continues to serve his community and be a positive role model for our youth, yet the unforgettable image of Patrick that was captured on camera and then, in a matter of hours, circulated globally will never be forgotten.

We have all heard the saying, ‘actions speak louder than words, and Patrick’s act of kindness showed the world we need love and compassion and togetherness to unite us all as one. The most striking element of Patrick’s photo from that day didn’t require any subtext: it was that of a man simply taking another man out of danger.

Check out Patrick’s website as he continues to inspire and help those around him.

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Give your resilience a boost

What is resilience?

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.

How you can give your resilience a boost?

1. Visualise Success
Resilient people create their own vision of success. This helps them achieve their goals by providing a clear sense of where they’re headed. Your vision needs to be rounded and vibrant and based on what is currently possible; resilient people don’t waste time on impossible dreams or hankering after things they’ll never have. They recognise the fine line between stretching goals and unrealistic goals.

2. Boost yourself-esteem
Some people are naturally blessed with high self- esteem. Others – perhaps most of us – need to work on self-esteem, which involves understanding where it comes from and what makes you feel good about yourself. The checklist below may help.

  • Identify what you’re good at. What can you feel positive about?
  • Remind yourself of these things regularly.
  • Recognise what other people appreciate about you.
  • Allow others to praise you, and resist the temptation to brush compliments aside.
  • When something goes wrong try to avoid beating yourself up unnecessarily; others will undoubtedly do it first!
  • Don’t compare yourself with other people.
  • When things go well for others feel genuinely pleased for them.
  • Enjoy it when something goes better than you thought it would.
  • Praise yourself.

3. Take control
Resilient people believe they can make a difference and be successful. Others suffer from unhelpful beliefs, or ‘drag anchors’. Here are 6 of the most common:

  1. I am the victim of my personal history – Your past must have an impact, but is no excuse for not improving yourself now.
  2. There’s so much to do it’s not even worth trying – Life is complex, and you now have to do more with less. As a result, you may come to believe there are simply so many imperatives that you can’t se where to start. Psychologists call this ‘agglomeration’ – feeling overwhelmed by the volume and complexity of the issues. Break the problem down, establish priorities and take first things first.
  3. You only get one shot – Occasionally this may be the case, but not often – especially in circumstances where even the experts can’t predict the right way to go. It then becomes a question of trial and error, always being alert to the worst-case scenario and unintended consequences.
  4. There’s a right answer to everything – Analysts dream that by scrutinising data hard enough, the ‘correct’ answer will emerge. This rarely happens in real life. The danger is that analysis becomes a substitute for, rather than a prelude to, action.
  5. I’m on my own – It’s easy to believe that you are the only one suffering and that you have to weather the storm alone. The old adage ‘a problem shares is a problem halved’ works well in these circumstances; talking things through is a source of strength, not a sign of weakness.
  6. This isn’t fair – Doctors claim that perpetrators of crimes heal more quickly than their victims. More generally, if you believe you have in some way contributed to a problem, you may feel more motivated to resolve it. If you are not to blame you tend to dwell on the unfairness of the situation rather than on what can be done.

Slip these drag anchors by reframing. Recognise when your thinking is negative and immediately turn it around so that it becomes positive.

4. Become more optimistic
Optimism is one of the most important characteristics of resilient people; it is vitally important to look on the bright side, have confidence in your own abilities, and salvage what you can from problematic situations. Even those who lean towards the glass-half-empty mindset can learn.

5. Manage stress
Psychologists see stress as an energising force – up to a point, beyond which it becomes debilitating. Highly resilient people have a higher tipping point and, when things threaten to get them down, they know how to deal with it. Sources of stress are unique to you: to boost your resilience, you need to identify what your stressors are and how to counteract them. There are also personality traits that make some individuals more stress-prone. Look at the list below. If you tend towards any of these, discipline yourself to reduce or eliminate them:

Displaying hostility Hiding feelings Being unable to listen properly Being over-perfectionist Having difficulty relaxing Being generally critical

Stress management falls into 2 categories – distraction and resolution. Distraction techniques include exercise, breathing deeply, walking or extracting yourself from the situation. Resolution is focused on solving the problem.

 
6. Improve decision-making
 Resilience requires you to make rather than avoid decisions. Resilient people trust their own judgement, but aren’t afraid to challenge their minds. They know that decisions are rarely irreversible and that procrastination is the enemy of resilience. Understanding your preferred decision-making approach is a critical step towards building resilience. Tips for shifting your style are given below.

Becoming more intuitive – Build experience – understand your decision-making shortcuts – trust your gut – establish the worst-case scenario – take a risk – learn
Becoming more rational – Stand back/don’t rush to judgement – gather data – talk to the relevant parties – establish criteria – use a rational process – ‘sense check’ the answer.

7. Ask for help
You don’t have to do this alone; resilient people know when to reach out to others – and who is best to turn to. Do you have this strength of network? If not, map it out. Draw a circle on a sheet of paper – this is you. Draw your network, with others depicted as circles too: the more important they are to you, the larger the circle; the stronger the relationship, the closer they are to you. Draw lines linking you to others and others to one another, dotted lines for indirect relationships. Consider what you want from them and what you can offer and add this to the map. What actions do you need to take to get and give support?

8. Deal with conflict
Conflict occurs when our views differ from those of another person – so we have to deal with conflict every day. The ability to handle it constructively is an important part of resilience – ensuring that the style of resolution is appropriate, given the nature of the conflict and the other party.

9. Learn
Thinking regularly about what lessons can drawn from your experience strengthens your ‘learning muscle’ and helps you build resilience. Figure out how you learn best and take the most from the experiences life throws at you.

10. Be yourself
You may be determined to enhance your resilience but you won’t succeed if your plan for doing this offends your core identity and values. The most resilient leaders are as self- aware as they are self-confident!

Attribution – NHS Public Health England

How to build a network of relationships

No matter what you are trying to achieve in life, you are going to find it much easier if you have the right people on your side. You can go through life trying to kick every door down or, you can build relationships which mean that you only have to knock on the door and receive a warm welcome. 

Joining us in our Wellbeing Cafe is speaker Ben Andoh – founder of the Ahava Experience. Ben Andoh shares his insights with us for how we can build our network of relationships.

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Relationship advice for couples

In the last two years the world we live in has changed immeasurably and there’s no denying that our relationships are changing, too. More couples are choosing to live together, fewer are choosing to get married, and we’re all increasing our dependence on technology and social networks, while battling to achieve an ideal work/life balance. 

But some things don’t change – age-old issues such as money, sex and arguments still present challenges. So it shouldn’t be surprising that maintaining and building our relationships can feel like such an uphill struggle. 

Joining us today in the Wellbeing Cafe is published author, psychotherapist, researcher, and entrepreneur, Russell Edwards. Published author, psychotherapist, researcher, and entrepreneur, Russell Edwards has a broad and dynamic career that has spanned over 35 years. 

As an author, he has written two true crime books and a graphic novel representing a 13-year research project created out of a passion for history which resulted in a historic breakthrough. His work has sold to major Publishers in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, France, Finland, Indonesia, and Brazil. The book is currently in 8 different languages. He is currently completing two children’s books.

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