A report backed by the Church of England has revealed that 9% of eight to 15-year-olds in the UK are unhappy with their lives.
The Children’s Society has released its first ‘Good Childhood Report’ based on an ongoing wave of research which it began in 2005, which shows that the primary factors in achieving childhood happiness are stability and love.
The report notes that while the majority of children are happy with their lives, around one in every eleven children experiences feelings of ‘low well-being’.
The primary component of well-being for most children, is their family situation, with the loving relationships with their families seen as far more important than the particular structure of the family that they live in.
In particular, levels of family harmony or conflict are strongly associated with children’s overall well-being, regardless of the type of family structure. This means that children who feel secure and loved feel happier, regardless of whether they live in a ‘traditional’ family or not.
Also key is the feeling of being listened to and being involved in making decisions within the family, as children who feel involved and empowered have significantly higher levels of well-being.
But while family structure itself wasn’t shown to be key, the issue of stability was shown to be vital, with children who had experienced parental breakup or other significant changes of family structure being almost twice as likely as other children to have low well-being.
The report claims that the quality of children’s relationships, especially having a balance between nurturing aspects of relationships such as care, support and safety – and aspects relating to autonomy, respect and choice, are very important in growing happy children.
But youngsters must also feel good about themselves, including their physical and mental health, and how they feel about the way that they look. Almost half of children who rated their heath as ‘very bad’ are unhappy with their lives as a whole. These children are more likely than those who were happy with their health to be living in poor households.
Money, in particular having a balance between having enough, and not having too much, is important, the report says.
Children living in the poorest 20% of households do have much lower well-being than average, but above that the problem is not so much with levels of household income, and more to do with stability and whether they are on a par with their friends.
Children who have a lot more or less than their peers feel less happy with their lives as a whole.
Cutting across all the findings of the report is the idea of stability in children’s lives, with any major changes, upheaval or adverse life events having the potential to significantly impact on children’s well-being.
The report’s authors claim that these findings ‘emphasise the importance of providing the right kind of support to children during times of crisis and critical transitions in their lives.’
January 12th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross