Solving The Child Worry Problem
Almost two-thirds of children in the UK worry “all the time”, according to new mental health research published today by the leading mental health charity Place2Be.
The research, conducted among 700 children aged 10 and 11, found that top the top 3 causes for worry were family well-being, well-being of friends and school work.
Other studies suggest that there are very good reasons to place family well-being at the top of this list. The BBC Breakfast programme reports that the UK has one of the highest rates of family breakup in the developed world.
There are, I think, several factors contributing to this problem. These must be addressed if we are to bring down the worry quotient among children.
Firstly, whilst we have more flexible hours and freelancing opportunities for parents today, children arguably have relatively fewer hours of meaningful interaction with adults than they did two generations ago. This means that there are fewer opportunities for children to learn life skills, including those that would help alleviate worry.
Such up-close-and-personal training is vital when thirty percent of the children in the Place2Be survey said that once they start worrying, they don’t know how to stop.
Digital communications may allow some parents to do more work at home, but our growing engagement with them also means that work interrupts important home activities. Digital distraction increases the likelihood of absent presence in the home – being there without “being there”, whether on the part of the child or the parent or carer.
Social media, for all its benefits, also increases potential exposure to degrading material, including pornography, sexting and trolling.
Meanwhile, a pop culture often coloured by background negativity in social media, rolling newscasts and “cutting edge” drama also affects children’s capacity to expect positive pos outcomes.
The bottom line is this: we need to do more to teach children coping skills and to let them see how we deal with problems. Teaching without modelling will be fruitless, as children often learn more about life from watching our responses than they do listening to us.
All this must begin within the family, which is the subject of more children’s worries than anything else.