Courtney Act is helping kids who feel ‘unaccepted’ by their peers
More than half of the nation’s young people feel ‘unaccepted’ by their peers, teachers or families, it has emerged.
The study, which aimed to uncover the worries of the nation’s youth, found 56 per cent feel they can’t be their true selves around others for fear of being judged.
Another one in six worry they are ‘different’ from everybody else, and ‘won’t ever’ find a place where they fit in.
It also emerged 72 per cent of young people have been prevented from getting a good night’s rest because of their childhood woes, with the average child kept up three nights a week by their racing minds.
One in four children worry about their physical appearance and how they will be judged by others.
And one in four said there was something about their appearance they wanted to change.
It also emerged 40 per cent have had someone say something negative to them based on their appearance.
Hope Bastine, resident psychologist for sleep tech company, Simba, who commissioned the study in support of its bedtime story event, ‘Drag Yourself to Bed’, with RuPaul’s Drag Race superstar, Courtney Act, said: “Most of us can remember the struggles we have encountered as we grew up.
”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.”
Twenty children from London were read Christine Baldacchino’s Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by the advocate and 2018 Celebrity Big Brother Winner, in the second in a series of bedtime story events held by Simba, designed to help the nation sleep more peacefully.
Held during London Pride 2018, the evening encouraged young people to embrace their most authentic selves.
Hope Bastine added: “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.”
Beyond body image, the study also found British children suffer with social concerns, too.
A third of children regularly worry about whether people around them really like them and accept them for who they are.
And 37 per cent have had to change something about the way they behave in order to fit in better with others.
Eighteen per cent have had pointed remarks made about their sexuality, and 16 per cent have had to defend themselves from comments on their race.
Despite feeling judged by others, 78 per cent of kids feel that people should be accepted to be whoever they want to be.
Hope Bastine added: “Sleep is so important to our growth when we are younger, both physically and mentally.
”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.”
Speaking at the event, Courtney Act said: “A good night’s sleep is a super-important part of feeling good.
”I’m an eight to ten hours a night kind of gal. I know when there’s lots of stuff racing around in my head it can be hard to sleep and stay asleep.
”And one of the biggest things that used to keep me awake at night was worrying about my gender and sexuality.”
“Pride is a time to celebrate what makes us unique and the more we let young people know that those things that make us different are actually our greatest strengths, the more comfortable we are in our own skin.”
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 RECOMMENDED INCLUSIVE READS FOR CHILDREN BEFORE BED
• ‘Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress’ by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant, Groundwood Books
• 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
Article by Grant Bailey