ATLANTA - You're struggling to pay the bills. Maybe you've been a little too loose with your credit cards. How much do you tell your kids?
WebMD pediatrician Dr. Hansa Bhargava says talking money with children is a balancing act.
"The key is giving them a little bit of information, but not giving them too much," Dr. Bhargava says. "Because you don't want them to worry."
A recent report from The American Academy of Pediatrics shows kids do worry about their family's financial problems, especially when it comes to high credit card debt.
The researchers followed about 9,000 children between the ages of 5 and 15 and their mothers for more than 20 years.
They checked in regularly with the mothers to ask about the children's well-being and their family's financial health.
The study found moms with rapidly-increasing "unsecured" credit-card debt reported a 35% jump in their children's behavioral issues.
But, other debt, like money to buy a home, or send mom or dad to college, were less likely to impact children.
Dr. Bhargava says if your child asks if money is tight, be honest.
"But also, make sure you tell them it's going to be okay, it's going to be okay," Dr. Bhargava says. "We're going to get through this. And this is a small thing. Because that will actually give you the tools to help them in their lives."
Decide how much to share based on your child's age. The younger the child, the more reassuring you should be and the fewer details you should share.
If you need to cut back, reassure your children you have a plan.
"It's okay to tell them, "Today, or this week, or this year, we won't be able to get this. But we'll consider it later," Dr. Bhargava says.