Recent New Zealand research asked children around the country aged 8-12 years old to identify what worries them the most. They were representative of rural, urban and every decile of school. The top five troubling topics emerged as managing anger, parents splitting up, parents fighting, living in a blended family and worry itself.
Fiona Pienaar, Post Graduate Counselling Programme Lecturer at the University of Auckland School of Counselling, conducted the research, asking the children themselves to identify what they worried about – not what parents or adults think they’re worried about.
In response to this research Skylight has developed, in association with Ms Pienaar, a Children’s Support Booklet for children 8 – 12 years on each of the top five topics. Written in language children in this age group use and comprehend, with practical and helpful suggestions, these innovative booklets have strong self care and personal safety messages.
Colourful, engaging and unique, these booklets offer a novel opportunity for parents, caring adults and professionals to support children through their anxiety and worry about tough life challenges.
Skylight’s Resource Manager, Tricia Irving Hendry says “Parents and caring adults often find it hard to know how to support children who might be angry, stressed or anxious about difficult situations.
“These booklets can be used to get children to think and talk about sensitive topics and yet at the same time, reassure them. It shows that an adult knows and cares about their personal challenges. It also gives adults ideas of ways to help a child.”
“An important approach is to help children realise that they aren’t alone, and that asking for help is okay,” says Ms Hendry.
“Having ongoing access to the information is essential – they may not want to talk about their troubles at that time or with that particular person. As the booklets are easy to carry around and referred to at any time privately, they’ll help children to gain confidence in dealing with their specific situation,” says Ms Hendry.
“We are expecting “What are you worried about?” will be the most requested resource as it cuts across all tough life situations. The research indicates just how worried about things children can be.”
The other titles are sure to be in high demand too as parental break up, parental fighting and blended families make up a large part of how home life is for children.
“Given the prevalence of family break up, parents who fight can worry children that their family is going to break up as well – even if it isn’t,” says Ms Hendry.
This research is a part of Ms Pienaar’s study exploring “New Zealand children’s experiences of stress and coping” for her PhD and is near completion.
“It is encouraging to see research translated directly into a positive use. Not all research can be acted on or even so quickly,” says Ms Pienaar.
The Children’s Support Booklets are available to order online for a small cost at www.skylight.org.nz, by contacting Skylight, a non profit support organisation, on 0800 299 100, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.