What Australian kids worry about most - March 2016
ABCs current affair program for kids Behind the News has surveyed 20,000 Australian children to find out what makes them happy and sad. What they’re worried about is surprisingly similar to what adults worry about.
The percentage of respondents who said they were worried about various aspects of their lives 'all of the time' or 'most of the time'.
• Being different 24%
• School 27%
• World problems 28%
• Bullying 30%
• Body 31%
• Friends 34%
• Health 37%
• Family 39%
• Their future 43%
Source: BTN Happiness Survey
“Just like adults, children have worries and fears, and they also have times when they feel okay and times when they feel happy” says child psychologist Kirrilie Smout. “If we understand that rather than having this idea that childhood is all ice creams and butterflies then we are in a better place to actually help children cope with the negative experiences and the negative emotions they do have.”
Research shows parents underestimate how worried kids are about a number of life issues. For instance the survey finding 43% of children were worried about the future most or all of the time. This is partly because children don’t show worry in the same way that adults do. They will often bounce around looking happy and engaged with what they’re doing but are not as good at using words to talk about their worries. Although children are turning to their parents more than anyone else when they need help, nearly one in five kids said they didn’t tell anyone when they were feeling worried.
When children are really embarrassed about something, they are least likely to tell anyone, according to developmental psychologist Dr Richard Oakearney. “That’s one of things that gets in the way of disclosure - fear of what other people think about me if I tell them of my concerns,” he says.
“For other groups of kids it may be that they are not in a context where they think their concerns will be taken seriously. This sort of feeling dismissed at home from parents - especially boys who tend to be told to ’man up’ and that they’re not supposed to worry about things.
Understanding children need a safe none judging parent-child relationship is important.