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Six messages to reassure kids when COVID-19 hits your family financially

The pandemic affects everyone — even cats and dogs that are clearly surprised at the change in routine.

Younger children might not understand everything that’s going on, and older ones might realize life has changed but not know how to get clarity from their parents.

The current situation is different from anything anyone’s experienced in our lifetime, says Wendy Mays, 49, who has a podcast on financial independence for families.

And kids know it.

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The clues are everywhere. Most parents are home. They might realize that grocery stores are barer than usual. 

Informing kids in a positive way can be difficult and challenging, says Lionel Hush, principal of Roosevelt Middle School in West Orange, New Jersey. Everyone’s home situation is different, and while some people are financially sound, hourly workers may not have the money rolling in. “For some parents, children knowing about their finances is the last thing some parents want,” Hush said.

“I think the big thing is to have age-appropriate conversations and be reassuring,” said Mays, who lives in San Diego.

Mays needed to chat with her kids, who range in age from 5 to 23, about the need to think more carefully about food. “You can’t just go into the pantry and have whatever you want,” Mays said. “We can’t just go to the store whenever we want.”