Kids are stressed out, and their parents all too often don't know it. That's the word from the American Psychological Association's Stress in America survey, which for the first time asked children about their stress levels. One third of the 1,206 children ages 8 to 17 said they were more stressed now than a year ago. And parents seem to be missing those clues:
So parents, time to get clued in. Katherine Nordal, a clinical psychologist who is executive director for professional practice at APA, says parents need to come clean with kids about their own worries. "Younger children tend to blame themselves for problems," she says. "If the kid doesn't know what's going on, they're likely to assume a worst-case scenario or make a problem bigger than it is." So parents need to:
"When parent or child is plugged into a BlackBerry, cellphone, video game, or television, they're not going to have enough time with their children for issues like that to come up," says Nordal. Indeed, 85 percent of the kids surveyed said they weren't comfortable talking with Mom or Dad, often because the parents were so busy.
"Take some time to tuck your kid into bed at night," Nordal adds. Dinnertime and driving in the car are also good times to bring up something like "We might not be able to do some of the fun stuff we used to do because Dad lost his job."
Are your kids more stressed out? I worry that my daughter hides her worries because she doesn't want to worry me. But they often tumble out when I'm tucking her in at night. What time do you find your children most often talking about the things that scare them?