One in four children worry about their physical appearance, a new poll has suggested.
The study of 1,000 children aged between nine and 16 showed four out of 10 had received negative comments made to them about the way they look. One in four considered their appearance to be one of their main worries in life.
“Most of us can remember the struggles we encountered as we grew up," said Hope Bastine, resident psychologist at sleep tech company Simba which commissioned the research. ''Trying to find our place in the world without having to disguise who we are can be a real challenge, and it is little surprise young people are grappling with who they are and how to assess how they are judged.
“But the more we encourage tolerance and celebrate our differences from an early age, the more comfortable young people will feel and the better they will sleep at night.”
The survey also found 34 per cent of respondents felt there was a part of their appearance they want to change. One in six worried they were "different" from everybody else, and "won’t ever" find a place where they fit in.
It also emerged 72 per cent had been prevented from getting a good night’s sleep because of these worries, with the average child kept up three nights a week.
Beyond body image, the study also found British children suffer with social concerns, too. A third regularly worried about whether people around them really liked them and accepted them for who they are and 37 per cent had had to change something about the way they behave in order to fit in better with others.
Eighteen per cent had pointed remarks made about their sexuality and 16 per cent had to defend themselves from comments on their race.
Despite feeling judged by others, 78 per cent of said that people should be accepted to be whoever they want to be.
Ms Bastine said: “The stories we read when we’re young can play a role in shaping our childhoods. A catalyst for our imaginations, they begin to acquaint us with some of life’s bigger questions, and can act as rehearsals for future face-to-face interactions.
“Stories before bed that encourage individuality and authentic self-expression can help to develop compassion, creativity and a positive outlook.”
She added: ''Feeling anxious can lead to sleeplessness, and feeling tired at school or in our social circles can lead to added tensions and disagreements that could have been avoided.
“Sleep gives us great stuff for free – it makes us sharper, healthier and calmer. 'Past studies have shown that just 27 extra minutes can contribute to improvements in empathy and emotional behaviour in school. In a chaotic world, encouraging young people to embrace calming rituals such as screen curfews before bed can help them to decompress and dissolve some of the stresses of the day before bed.”
Top 20 child worries:
1. Whether people really like me
2. Fear of failing at school work
3. That I'm not good enough / everyone's better than me
4. Physical appearance (what you look like)
5. Fear of taking tests and exams
6. Not making friends
7. Something bad happening to you or people you care about
8. Feeling like you are different to everyone else
9. Temper and not being able to control anger
10. Spots / your skin
11. Being bullied at school
12. Your parents/guardians
13. What is going on in the world
14. Your health
15. The news or something I have read either online or offline
16. How much money you have
17. Being bullied online / cyber bullying
18. Your clothes / fashion
19. Fear of doctors, dentists or medical procedures
20. Someone you have a crush on
Hope Bastine's reccomended inclusive reads for children before bed:
• Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
• This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman. Illustrated by Kristyna Litten
• Be Who You Are by Jennifer Carr
• Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
• It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr
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