Farm Kids Under Stress

Planting conditions, commodity prices, tariff issues – these are things that keep farmers awake at night. The stress of dealing with conditions out of their control trickles through the entire family and it’s critical that children aren’t left to deal with the emotional ramifications on their own.

Larry Tranel is an extension dairy field specialist with Iowa State University. He says kids sense when something’s going on. They’re good at tuning in to their parents and will often show signs of picking up that stress.  

"Kids will tend to at times act out, so any behavior that you kind of feel like is out of the ordinary. They might not be eating quite as well, they may be eating more than normal. They might not be sleeping very well, or they might be sleeping more than normal," says Tranel. "Take a look at maybe even having trouble in school or trouble focusing, or they might be watching too much TV or something like that."

Kids might also think it’s their fault that things are happening. It’s important to let them know they’re loved, listen to their worries, and tell them what’s going on in an age-appropriate manner.

"We’re having a little bit of a problem here, maybe it’s a major problem we’re going to work ourselves through," he says. "Kids often tend to be quite resilient with things as well, and the more you can actually help them feel like they’re part of helping out the situation – so they might be doing extra chores or they can’t buy this because we have some financial difficulty or whatever – but the more you can bring them along, I tend to feel it’s better for them."

Tranel says clear and caring communication and well-adjusted thought processes will help them better deal with their feelings. You can’t take away the tough times, but you can help them build resiliency.

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