KidsPoll Topic: What Kids Worry About


KidsPoll Reveals "Health of Someone You Love" Tops the List

Wilmington, DE, January 15, 2008 Parents may assume that preteens are preoccupied with things like their looks, schoolwork, and fitting into the social scene, but a new KidsHealth® KidsPoll reveals that these aren't the only things on their minds. The poll asked 1,154 kids ages 9 to 13 how much they worry (all the time, a lot, a little, or never) about a variety of concerns that are common among kids their age. The majority (86%) said they worry "almost all the time" or "a lot" about the health of someone they love. Many kids said they worry "almost all the time" or "a lot" about other things, too including schoolwork, tests, or grades (77%), their future (76%), and looks or appearance (63%).

The KidsHealth KidsPoll "What Kids Worry About" piloted 20 items from a list of common worries and stressors for children in this age group. The final KidsPoll included the eight items that ranked highest on the pilot.

Reason for Worry or Stress % of kids who worry "almost all of the time" % of kids who worry "a lot"
Health of someone you love 55% 31%
Your future 43% 33%
Schoolwork, tests, or grades 37% 40%
Your looks or appearance 37% 26%
Making mistakes or messing up 26% 35%
Your friends and their problems 24% 33%
War or terrorism 25% 25%
The environment 10% 21%

"Worry about the health of a loved one whether it's a parent, grandparent, sibling, or a pet is a concern kids often experience," explains D'Arcy Lyness, PhD, child and adolescent psychologist and medical editor for "Health is on kids' minds during the preteen years, when many schools address the dangers of smoking, drinking alcohol, unhealthy eating, and not wearing seat belts. It's natural that as kids begin to learn about these behaviors that they may also begin to worry that these things will affect the people they love and rely on to keep them safe. At this age, kids become more aware of health problems that parents or grandparents may have. And some kids experience the illness or death of a loved one."

KidsPoll found that even though many kids worry about the health of a loved one, many do not talk about it. Of kids surveyed, only 23% said they talk to a parent when they worry. Twenty-five percent (25%) reported that they "talk to a friend" and 20% said they "try to fix it or make it better" on their own when they're worried., the most-visited website for children's health information, offers parents the following tips on how to help kids manage their worries about the health of loved ones:

  • Take the lead. Just because kids don't ask doesn't mean that they're not aware or concerned. Remember to ask questions and listen.
  • Tune into school. Know what your child is learning and hearing about in health class and talk about it together.
  • Watch what you say. Be mindful of your words when you talk about your own health.
  • Don't overreact. When teaching safety and healthy behaviors, avoid using worst-case scenarios or exaggerating the risks just to make your point.
  • Provide information. If someone is ill, keep a calm perspective and give accurate information at a level your child can understand. Sometimes what kids imagine is worse than is the reality. Explaining a situation can help to dispel misconceptions.
  • Reassure. Remind kids that their feelings and concerns are natural.
  • Be a good listener. Provide an open, empathetic, and nonjudgmental atmosphere.
  • Be a role model. Take good care of yourself. Leading a healthy lifestyle minimizes potential sources of concern for kids and sets a good example for healthy living.

"Parents can provide perspective as well as support," reminds Dr. Lyness. "It's easy for kids to misinterpret what they hear, so sometimes parents need to correct misconceptions. Let your kids know if what they worry about isn't likely to happen, and be understanding. After all, isn't the health of a loved one a worry we all can relate to?"

The KidsHealth KidsPoll "What Kids Worry About" surveyed 1,154 children ages 9 to 13 across the United States at 9 member sites of the National Association of Health Education Centers (NAHEC). Researchers from the Department of Health Education and Recreation, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, conducted the survey. Survey questions were drafted with the expertise of the KidsPoll Scientific Advisory Board.




About the KidsHealth® KidsPoll
A project of the National Association of Health Education Centers (NAHEC), the Nemours Center for Children's Health Media (creators of, and Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Department of Health Education and Recreation (project researchers), the KidsHealth KidsPoll gives children a national platform to share their views on health-related issues that affect them. For more information about the KidsHealth KidsPoll, please visit

About the National Association of Health Education Centers (NAHEC)
NAHEC is a network of nonprofit health education centers (HECs) and of other organizations that support children's health education and provide products and services to HECs. NAHEC member centers reached over 3 million children, teachers, and parents in 2005. HECs use life-size exhibits, advanced audio-visual technology, and specialized, interactive instructional techniques not generally found in conventional classrooms. The curriculum is designed to support school-mandated areas of study. With programs like "Whodunit? - A Forensic Science Camp," Hummers outfitted with removable organs, and playgrounds modeled after anatomy parts, you'll see why former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop proclaimed that health education centers "put pizzazz in prevention." For more information about NAHEC, please visit

About KidsHealth®
KidsHealth creates engaging online, print, and video media about a wide range of health and family issues. KidsHealth has a physician-directed, professional editorial staff - and is the largest resource of online childrens health, behavioral, and developmental information written for three distinct audiences: parents, kids, and teens. Each year, over 140 million families turn to for expert answers, making it the Webs most-accessed site on childrens health. Recent accolades include the Webby Awards for Best Family/Parenting Website and Best Health Website and selection as one of the 30 Best Websites by U.S. News & World Report and one of the 50 Coolest Websites by TIME magazine. KidsHealth also provides educators with free standards-based health curricula, activities, handouts, and more through its website, KidsHealth in the Classroom ( KidsHealth comes from The Nemours Foundation, one of the largest nonprofit organizations devoted to childrens health. For more information about KidsHealth, please visit

About Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Department of Health Education & Recreation
Researchers from Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Health Education and Recreation conduct the KidsHealth KidsPoll. The research team for this project is led by Stephen L. Brown and David A. Birch, faculty members in the Department of Health Education and Recreation. The department offers a bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree in health education and a bachelor's and master's degree in recreation. The health education program is recognized nationally as a leader in school health education and graduate-level teaching and research. Graduates of the program are in health education leadership positions across the country. The department includes 11 health education faculty members and six recreation faculty members. For more information about SIUC, please visit


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