Everyone worries, right? Kids and grown-ups, too. But what do kids worry about most of all? We recently asked 1,154 boys and girls, and they said it was the health of a loved one.
That's right. More than grades or their looks or whether they'd succeed at their sport, kids were most worried about someone they love who was sick or who they thought might have a health problem. That might surprise you — and the adults in your life — but it really makes a lot of sense.
Why You Worry About Loved Ones
The people you love mean a lot to you. If it's a grown-up, like a parent or grandparent, you might worry about something happening to them. Who would take care of you, be there for you, or know just how to make your favorite breakfast on Sunday morning?
Kids count on grown-ups, love them, and want them to be around for a long time. So it's no wonder that kids get scared and sad if one of those special people gets sick. Kids also might worry if a loved one has an unhealthy habit, like smoking cigarettes, which can make people sick later in life.
Even younger loved ones, such as a sister, brother, or friend, can make kids worry if that person gets sick or has to go into the hospital.
What to Do
Is there anyone you're worried about right now? If so, here are some ways to handle it.
Get the facts. You've probably seen movies and TV shows where a person finds out a little piece of information, freaks out or makes some crazy decisions because of it, and then finds out later that he or she didn't know the whole story. "Oh, they were talking about bank robbers who were at a costume party, not real bank robbers!" It's the same with health stuff.
So if you hear a little piece of information, like your mom or dad talking on the phone to someone, don't get yourself all worried. Instead, find out what's really going on. Just ask your mom or dad if something is wrong of if someone is sick. If the answer is no, then you can feel relieved and you can stop worrying about that person being sick.
If the answer is yes, ask your mom or dad to tell you what kind of sickness it is and what the person needs to do. The good news is that there are treatments and medicines for just about every kind of illness.
If a loved one has a certain illness, such as diabetes, you might be tempted to go to the Internet for information. That can be a fine idea, but ask an adult to search with you. There's so much health information on the web that it can be overwhelming. An adult can help you steer clear of unreliable web sites and zero in on information that's written for kids.
Talk it out. About 25% of kids said they'd share their worries with a friend. Another 23% said they'd talk to their mom or dad. But the rest of the kids said they'd just deal with their worries on their own or try not to think about it. That might not be the best plan because some worries can be too much for kids to handle alone.
Talking to someone — especially a trusted adult — can help get you some of the facts we mentioned above. The adult also can be a source of support for you if you need a hug or someone to help you take a break from worrying. A nice walk or a board game could be just what you need. Sometimes the grown-up won't be able to change the thing that worries you, but just getting your worries out of your heart and head can make you feel better.
Other times, talking could help change what you're worried about. For instance, if people you love smoke, you can encourage them to quit. You don't want to be too pushy, but tell them you want them to stop smoking to be healthier. Also say that you'll be their biggest cheerleader if they decide to stop.
Remember that the human body is AMAZING! Sometimes it seems like there are many things that can go wrong with a person's body. But it's good to think about how fabulous the body is and how it usually is very good at getting well. For many illnesses, the body heals itself without any special medicines or medical procedures. How many times have you been sick and gotten better? Thank your immune system for all those recoveries.
Your immune system is like a microscopic army ready to do battle against germs that can make you sick. Or if you do get sick, your immune system can help you get well again. So button up your coat, get a good night's sleep, wash your hands, and eat your veggies. Why? So you can stay healthy. We don't want anyone to worry about you either!
What's a KidsPoll?
The group that took this KidsPoll included an almost equal number of boys and girls who were between 9 and 13 years old. They answered the questions on handheld data devices while visiting these health education centers and children's museums:
- Children's Health Education Center — Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Robert Crown Center for Health Education — Hinsdale, Illinois
- Health Exploration Station - Canton, Michigan
- Health World Children's Museum — Barrington, Illinois
- Hult Health Education Center - Peoria, Illinois
- Kansas Learning Center - Halstead, Kansas
- Ruth Lilly Health Education Center — Indianapolis, Indiana
- McMillen Center for Health Education — Ft. Wayne, Indiana
- Weller Health Education Center — Eaton, Pennsylvania
A poll, like the KidsPoll, asks people a list of questions. Then researchers compile all the answers and look at the way the group answered. They calculate how many — or what percentage — answered "yes" to this question and "no" to that one. Polls give us clues about how most people — not just the ones who answered the poll questions — feel about certain issues. We'll be conducting more KidsPolls in the future to find out what kids say — maybe you'll be part of one!
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: July 2010
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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