Gulf spill can affect children emotionally, says expert

Posted By: Samyuktha
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Washington, July 17 (ANI): Children may come under emotional stress due to the Gulf oil spill, according to an expert.

"When parents are stressed, children are stressed," says University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) child psychologist Vivian Friedman, who counselled children displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"This is especially true for young children who aren't independent of their parents. If parents talk about financial crises or other kinds of worries, it affects the children directly."

"Financial stresses can be very difficult for children. If mom and dad say they are worried about finances, children may see themselves becoming homeless and living on the streets forever.

"Children under stress can suffer from anxiety, have sleep problems or have problems paying attention. Some of the children may have to move away from the only home they have ever known, and that can bring about a lot a stress to a child's life. After Hurricane Katrina those kids experienced a fairly significant upheaval, and they lost a lot of material possessions. However, most children are able to adjust over time," she added.

"Parents can help their children by keeping things as calm and as normal as possible," she says. "As best they can, parents should discuss their worries with other adults and not with their children. It's also a good idea to prepare children in advance for any major changes such as a move to a new home or city.

If there are financial changes, it's OK to tell a child 'You can't have a cell phone this year because we're having some problems.' That's an important part of growing up," Friedman said. (ANI)

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