Children's Health

KidsPoll Reveals “Health of Someone You Love” Tops the List of Their Concerns

It’s Not Just About Looks and the Social Scene

Parents may assume pre-teens are concerned with issues such as their looks, schoolwork and fitting into the social scene but a new KidsHealth’ KidsPoll reveals they are thinking about much more.

The poll asked more than 1,000 children ages nine to 13 how much they worry (almost all the time, a lot, a little, or never) about a variety of common concerns among kids their age. Nearly 90 percent responded they worry “almost all the time” or “a lot” about the health of someone they love. Many children said they worry “almost all the time” or “a lot” about other things, too – including schoolwork, tests or grades (77 percent), their future (76 percent) and looks or appearance (63 percent).

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
Percent of kids who worry “almost all the time”
Percent of kids who worry “a lot”
Health of someone you love
Your future
Schoolwork, tests, or grades
Your looks or appearance
Making mistakes and messing up
Your friends and their problems
War or terrorism
The environment

“Pre-teens are not as self-absorbed as some parents might think,” said Steve Pastyrnak, Ph.D, psychology, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “The support of loved ones is very important to them. Children often thrive on knowing they have the support of a loved one. If you take that network away, a child’s world changes. It is certainly important to fit into the social scene but the importance of the health and well-being of a loved one shouldn’t be diminished. The results of this poll prove children are thinking about more than adults sometimes give them credit for.”

KidsPoll found that while many pre-teens worry about the health of a loved one, many do not talk about it. Of kids surveyed, only 23 percent said they talk to a parent when they worry. Twenty-five percent reported that they “talk to a friend” and 20 percent said they “try to fix it or make it better” on their own when they are worried.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital 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 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.
  • KidsHealth, part of the Nemours Foundation, is an educational partner with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is West Michigan’s largest children’s hospital, serving children and families throughout a 37-county region. A teaching hospital, it includes more than 150 pediatric specialty physicians uniquely skilled in providing medical and surgical care to children in 40 pediatric specialties. The hospital cares for more than 7,500 inpatients and 150,000 outpatients annually. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is committed to caring for children and their families with compassion, excellence and innovation.’ Visit for more information.