School work, the state of the planet and physical pains are among the biggest worries of children growing up today.
A poll of 1,000 ‘tweenagers’, aged seven to 15, found nearly a quarter feel concerned about something every single day.
For the younger demographic – seven to 11 year olds – the pressures from school and forming friendships results in nearly half feeling ‘scared’ at times about growing up.
Of the older group – 12 to 15 year olds – nearly half are ‘anxious’ about wider world issues such as climate change and more than a third worry about their future.
Clinical Psychologist Dr Kate Mason, who specialises in the well-being of young people, speaking about the research commissioned by Nurofen, said: “The pre-teen years are undoubtedly a distinct and special time in children’s lives.
“This is when they are psychologically and emotionally developing their unique identities and perspectives, comprehending their place in the world, strengthening their relationships with peers and family and undergoing many physical and neurological changes.
“However, these changes understandably bring a cocktail of emotions for children and their parents as well as tricky practical challenges to overcome as they let go of the comforts of childhood, and face the uncertainty of the coming adolescent years.”
The research found adolescents aged 12-15 years old also experience certain types of physical pains with two thirds dealing with headaches, a fifth having discomfort from braces and more than half feeling general body pain.
For nearly one in five, being in pain was cited as a worry and 77 per cent will turn to their parents when they are suffering physically.
The 1,000 parents who were also polled shared their view on the emotional impact of their child growing up and the practical challenges they face.
The survey revealed more than a third of youngsters are spending more time away from their mums and dads than they ever have.
One in five said their child is becoming more independent and distant with age but more than half view the increasing self-reliance as positive, and enjoy their new found freedom.
However, 46 per cent worry about their offspring going elsewhere for advice and two in five struggle to ‘let go’ as their youngster grows up.
A third struggle if their tween shows ‘out of character’ behaviour but equally the same amount find humour when their child acts a bit ‘irrationally’ and 40 per cent go on to share stories with fellow parents.
When it comes to managing their child’s pains, a third worry about their child getting the right dose of effective pain relief, according to the OnePoll.com data.
The difficult in-between ages has one in four parents reporting their child finds syrup too ‘childish’, while 40 per cent say their youngster struggles to swallow pain relief tablets.
As a result, more than a third have disguised their child’s pain medicine to get them to take it – 53 per cent used peanut butter and 67 per cent dissolved their medicine in orange juice.
Finding the right solution is a priority for parents, with half wanting to feel assured their child has the correct dose of medicine to last throughout the day.
Marcella Christophersen, Nurofen senior brand manager at RB said: “These survey findings are important to highlight the challenging times this age group and their parents can go through as their children transition to adulthood – their so-called ‘growing pains’.
“It’s clear that finding a suitable product for pain relief is a priority for parents, so they can feel assured their child has the correct dose of medicine to last throughout the day; yet they can often struggle with formulations available for this ‘in-between age group’.
“Recognising the pain relief needs of this age group, we have recently launched two products to help overcome some of these practical challenges.”
Clinical Psychologist Dr Kate Mason’s top tips to help parents talk to their children about the things they find painful or worry about:
• Be open and honest – Take your lead from your child, answer their questions and only go into the level of detail they ask for, but don’t be afraid to be honest or try to sugarcoat issues.
• Choose opportune times to talk – A relaxed setting can help them open up, whether this be on the way home from school, sitting down to dinner, or even when watching TV or playing together. Doing a fun activity together can be a good time to have an open chat – whether this be while shopping, bike riding, or cooking together.
• Problem solve together – Remember your child is going through a lot of changes – some good and some more challenging. To help manage these, I suggest taking time to talk through their concerns and the various options open to them, whether that be facing a difficult test at school, or a new type of pain. This will reassure them, build their understanding, empower them and help them develop problem solving abilities.
• Remember you’re not on your own – It’s okay to ask for help – no parent knows the answer to everything! For example, if you child is experiencing an ache or pain, speak to your pharmacist for advice if you’re unsure how best to address it.