In 2012, you have a choice: worry about your child’s health or empower your child to be healthy

No doubt we live in worry filled times. From the stock market to our kids, there’s no shortage of issues we can come up with to angst over in any given day.

Interestingly, our collective concerns over our children and their health has been rock solid consistent the last few years, as demonstrated by the National Poll on Children’s Health compiled by the CS Mott Children’s Hospital. The poll’s top 10 parental concerns has been virtually stable for the 5 years the poll has been complied. That is, until this year.  We have one societal development to thank for the changes we see in this year’s list: technology. With change and development does come new issues to address and that’s what this year’s list reflects.

So, what are we worried about? These issues:

2010 (and 2009)

1. Childhood obesity, 38 percent
2. Drug abuse, 30 percent
3. Smoking, 29 percent
4. Internet safety, 25 percent
5. Stress, 24 percent
6. Bullying, 23 percent
7. Teen pregnancy, 23 percent
8. Child abuse and neglect, 21 percent
9. Alcohol abuse, 20 percent
10. Not enough opportunities for physical activity, 20 percent

2011 

1. Childhood obesity, 33%
2. Drug abuse, 33%
3. Smoking and tobacco use, 25%
4. Teen pregnancy, 24%
5. Bullying, 24%
6. Internet safety, 23%
7. Stress, 22%
8. Alcohol abuse, 20%
9. Driving accidents, 20%
10. Sexting, 20%

(http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/top-ten-national-poll-0815)

Note the increased emphasis on digital issues beyond “internet safety” such as sexting adn driving.

So, what now? Now, we have to take a step back and realize that a list isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on or the hard drive space it’s saved on if we just read it and don’t do a thing about it. The fact that these concerns have been so stable for so long is a big wake up call that our kids need help with these issues, and we need help figuring out how to help our kids. But, we can’t do it alone. We need community support if we’re going to help our kids with these issues – they are complicated and multifactorial.

Worry is an interesting emotion. It can help or hurt. It can fuel us into action or freeze us into inaction. How it impacts us is in our control. Whether we look at our child and say “not my kid” or recognize “wow, yes, my kid” is in our control.

So, what are you going to do with your worry about your kids’ health in 2012? Are you going to let it be the starter for that fire inside you to help your kids become more healthy…or let it consume you and keep you in idle?

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