Kids More Stressed Out Than Ever Before, Survey Shows

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens

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Kids are more stressed out than they were last year, and they take their cues from their parents. Credit: BrittneyBush, Flickr

Kids are more stressed out than ever, and their worries include family financial troubles, body image issues and getting into a good college or university.

The 2009 Stress in America survey, administered by the American Psychological Association, is the first to ask children about their stress levels, according to U.S. News & World Report. The results are startling: One third of the 1,206 children ages 8 to 17 surveyed admitted that they are more stressed out than they were just one year ago.

Even more surprising is the revelation that parents are missing their kids' cues. Only 18 percent of moms and dads believed their kids were worried about money, while 30 percent of children said that financial concerns stressed them out. Two-thirds of parents surveyed also fail to realize that how they handle their own stress can influence their kids, while 80 percent of children said they learn their healthy living habits from the way their parents behave.

How can you tell if your child is experiencing stress? Headaches, trouble sleeping, lack of appetite and tummy aches are some good indicators. Don't turn a blind eye, because kids who internalize their fears and worries instead of acting out are at a higher risk for developing anxiety problems and depression, according to the APA.

But don't despair -- there are tools for stress relief:

  • Be available. Turn off that phone and log off the Internet, because 85 percent of kids surveyed said they weren't comfortable talking to their parents because Mom and Dad were too busy.
  • Respond thoughtfully. Kids will tune out if you act angry or defensive, and remember to focus on your child's feelings about the situation and not your own.
  • Be honest. Kids know when they're being fed a line. Be upfront in an age-appropriate way -- be it marital problems, money issues or other adult concerns. Tell them you are working together to solve the problem.
  • Seek additional help. There's no shame in seeking the assistance of a therapist, doctor or psychologist.
Is your child stressed out? How do you cope with it?

Related: Bad Economy Spurs Runaways

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.