Children as young as nine have said how they look is one of their main worries in life, and that it often prevents them from getting a good night's sleep, according to a new study.
Sleep technology company Simba commissioned the poll of 1,000 children aged between nine and 16.
The research also found that four in ten of the children had personally experienced negative comments about the way they look.
Speaking about the data, Simba’s resident psychologist Hope Bastine said: ‘Most of us can remember the struggles we 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.’
Hope urged people to encourage tolerance and to celebrate differences from an early age in order to help children feel more comfortable in their own skin, and to be more accepting of others.
More than a quarter of the children said there was something about their appearance that they wanted to change and one in six were worried about the fact that they were different to other people.
Check in with your kids regularly to see what’s on their mind and see if you can help
Sadly, 72 per cent of the children reported that these worries often left them with sleep problems. The average child struggling to sleep three nights of the week due to the worry and stress.
Although appearance was one of the dominant causes of worry, the children also expressed concern about whether people liked them.
Some children commented on their sexuality and others stated they felt like they had to defend themselves against comments on their race.
Hope stressed that bedtime stories are an easy and effective way to teach children about differences and a brilliant way to champion diversity.
She 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.’
Has your little one said they are worried about their appearance? How did you tackle it? We’d love to here your experiences and tips so head over to our Facebook page to join the conversation!