2018 Results

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Kids are dealing with more “grown-up” worries than ever before.

How Kids Answered

“Someone hurting me and my friends when we’re at places we should feel safe.”

“When your children are worried, the most important thing is to create a dialogue.”—Jennifer Miller, M.Ed.

“I worry about a lockdown at my school or something dangerous happening in my area.”

Kids Worry

In the words of Editor in Chief Christine French Cully, “At Highlights, we often talk about childhood as a short, sweet season—a carefree time. But we know that children do worry.” And our survey results proved that, with 79% of kids responding that they worry. Young children, those ages 6 to 8, seem to reside in an idyllic childhood, with no worries. However, that does change as children age. Developmentally, as social awareness comes into play in the tween years, brain activity shows that a child’s social anxiety awakens, so it’s natural that children become more concerned about current events and the world at large.

Among those kids who worry about violence and safety, 35% say they worry about school shootings and school-related gun violence.  Jennifer Miller, M.Ed., author of Confident Parents, Confident Kids, notes that one reason for this increase is the fact that today kids have more access to news than ever before and news gets spread faster. She says that parents can help their children by thinking about their kids’ daily dose of media consumption—both the quantity and the quality. If all your child sees or hears is the same negative news over and over, it can become problematic because young kids especially may not understand that it is the same news cycle being repeated, not another live event.

Takeaway
While eye opening, it’s understandable that our children worry. There are so many things happening in the world that can create insecurities among kids today. Balance out the negative news by sharing stories about people all over the world doing good things, big and small. Another way to lessen a child’s worry is to take action. Get your child involved in a civic cause he is passionate about. Help your child become more self-aware by asking open-ended questions. How are your friends doing? How did you feel at recess today? Then move to the heart of the issue: ask about anything that’s new—new teacher, school, friends, subjects to study. Try to identify the issue and react in supporting ways. If you don’t, it will only escalate your child’s anxiety. Above all, don’t be dismissive of your child’s feelings. If you think worry has gone too far, ask yourself some questions. Is it debilitating? Is it preventing your child from going to school or stopping her from being with friends or participating in extracurricular activities? When in doubt, seek professional support.

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