NEW YORK, Aug. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As back-to-school season approaches, a new survey finds that the vast majority (87 percent) of students ages 8-12 years are anxious about issues ranging from new teachers and classes to forming friendships to keeping up with the latest fashion trends.
In its mission to provide an educational resource for parents to teach their children to successfully navigate the tricky tween years, Unilever's Don't Fret The Sweat campaign commissioned a survey examining the emotions of kids and their parents during the back-to-school season. The survey revealed that more than half (53 percent) of tweens feel stressed about going back to school.
Parents are feeling the same way, as 85 percent of respondents share similar academic and social concerns for their tweens. In fact, half of parents would worry more about their child's first day back to school than they would their own first day on the job, a concern that doesn't go away as their child ages. Nearly three-quarters of parents agree that the coming year is just as stressful, if not more so, than the year before.
"Going back to school is tough for everyone in the family, especially families of tweens when there is a great deal of emotional and physical transition in store," said Rosalind Wiseman, author of The New York Times bestseller, Queen Bees and Wannabees, and spokesperson for the Don't Fret The Sweat campaign. "Tweens today need to know their parents are there to help them through schoolwork, friends, hygiene and all the sweat-inducing moments that come with being a tween. Communication is essential to help minimize the decline in self-esteem that we know begins around age 12 or 13."
Exciting New Beginnings
While the majority of tweens harbor anxiety over back-to-school season, some of the primary stress-inducing factors are also the ones that get them most excited. This year, tweens are eagerly anticipating everything from making new friends (58 percent) to meeting new teachers (40 percent) and starting new classes (36 percent). Others are excited to join a sports team or theatre group (38 percent) or even mingle at their first co-ed social event (11 percent).
Aspiring Social Butterflies
Whether excited or nervous to head back-to-school, kids are especially anxious about their social lives come September, worrying they won't make new friends (42 percent) or will get teased for the way they look (24 percent). Mothers and fathers also fear for their child's evolving social life. About four in ten parents are concerned that he or she won't fit in with certain classmates or make new friends, and will get teased for the way their child looks (33 percent).
The Daily Grind
No matter how kids manage their anxiety levels during back-to-school season, it doesn't eliminate the day-to-day stress nearly all (91 percent) students this age encounter at school. Close to 70 percent of 8-12 year-olds admit homework is a stressful part of their day, while others have anxiety about classes (42 percent) and gym, especially having to change in front of others in the locker room (18 percent). More girls than boys say that having to change clothes in gym class is a stressful part of their school day.
Talking It Out
Fortunately, parents and their children have a positive dialogue about these concerns and aspirations. Nearly all (98 percent) parents talk to their children as back to school season draws near. Likewise, 61 percent of young children (more boys than girls) turn to their moms and dads for support when they've had a tough day at school, far fewer than those that confide in friends (19 percent).
Standing Out in the Crowd
Perhaps keeping parental lines of communication open is why 78 percent of kids feel they are staying true to themselves, even if it is not the popular thing to do. For those tweens who try to be more like their friends instead of themselves, 70 percent admit that going back to school is stressful, compared to 49 percent of those kids who stay true to who they are.
Beautiful New Student
Nearly half of parents take the time to talk to their kids about his or her appearance, including what clothes to wear and what personal care products their child is interested in before the new school year starts. "It's important for parents to develop a healthy hygiene routine with their children from a young age," says Wiseman. "Simple advice such as daily showers and using deodorant can inspire confidence as kids start to experience the biological milestones of the tween years." Survey respondents echoed this sentiment as about a quarter of students are interested in keeping up their appearance by craving beauty products such as shampoos and body mists (25 percent) or make-up (23 percent).
Arming Parents with Tips for the Talk
The Don't Fret The Sweat campaign provides product solutions that help free tweens from odor and discomfort. Unilever, the makers of Degree® Men Deodorant, Degree® Girl Deodorant, Dove® Deodorant and Suave® Deodorant, has joined forces with a variety of thought-leading experts and partners to offer an educational resource for parents to teach their children to successfully navigate their own sweat-inducing moments and transition into confident and self-reliant teens. To join the conversation and for expert tips, tools and real life stories from parents, visit Facebook.com/DontFretTheSweat.
The online survey of 521 American children ages 8-12 years old and 521 American parents of children ages 8-12 years old was conducted July 12-19, 2011 by Kelton Research. The margin of error is 4.3 percent for each of the subgroups.
About Unilever United States, Inc.
Unilever is one of the world's leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods with strong operations in more than 100 countries and sales in 180. With products that are used over two billion times a day around the world, we work to create a better future every day and help people feel good, look good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and good for others. In the United States the portfolio includes brand icons such as: Axe, Ben & Jerry's, Bertolli, Breyers, Caress, Country Crock, Degree, Dove personal care products, Good Humor, Hellmann's, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!, Klondike, Knorr, Lever 2000, Lipton, Pond's, Popsicle, Promise, Q-Tips, Ragu, Skippy, Slim-Fast, Suave, TIGI, Vaseline, and Wish-Bone. All of the preceding brand names are registered trademarks of the Unilever Group of Companies. Dedicated to serving consumers and the communities where we live, work and play, Unilever employs more than 10,000 people in the United States – generating over $8 billion in sales in 2010. For more information, visit www.unileverusa.com.
SOURCE Unilever United States, Inc.