Help farm children through the stress of a difficult season
Farmers' children are feeling the same stress that farm owners face in this era of drought.
Farm children are long accustomed to sharing the responsibilities of farm life; children are now paying the price in both physical and emotional terms in this era of drought across the United States.
Farm children are unique in that they are often much more involved in the everyday business affairs of their families than the children raised in other settings. Consequently, it’s very obvious to them when the farm is in trouble.
For children, the stress brought on by the family’s misfortune takes its toll in many ways: their school performance suffers and they might also exhibit physical symptoms such as stomach aches, sleeping and eating disturbances, as well as an inability to relax or concentrate.
To help children deal with stress, families need to try to maintain stability in farm routines and rituals. These are the things that can give children the greatest sense of security and assurance that things will work out. To reduce everyday stress, try some of the following strategies:
- Reduce the amount of activities that are not a priority.
- Remind the children to do the best they can and that no one is perfect.
- Keep children moving! Try to fit in physical activity for 30 minutes at least three days per week.
- Feed children nutritious, well-balanced meals; make at least half of their plates fruits and vegetables.
- Make sure that children are getting a good night’s rest.
- Laugh! Humor can help ease almost any situation.
- Have the family take time for family activities and hobbies.
- If your everyday stresses are overwhelming your family or children, make sure to get them help from a health care provider.
Stress can occur from positive life events such as a wedding or from negative events such as a crisis on the farm. Whether these major life events are good or bad stress, they will affect you and your family. In the beginning of a stress crisis, it seems like you may never get through it, but you will.
Information from Michigan State University’s (MSU) Nurturing Families Curriculum may be helpful. Check out the RELAX-Alternatives to Anger classes that are offered all over the state of Michigan and visit the MSU Extension website for more helpful articles, events and resources.
- MSU Extension’s Drought Resources