We’ve been looking into what predicts subjective wellbeing in children and the results are fascinating.
Our analysis of survey data suggests that, across the life-course, good relationships with friends and family are vital. 7-year-olds were most likely to say they were happy if they got on well with siblings, had fun together with their family at weekends, and were with parents who didn’t shout at or smack them.
And essentially, this pattern doesn’t change. The wellbeing of 11-to-15 year olds was also linked with family dynamics, such as eating dinner together as a family and feeling supported by loved ones.
Child wellbeing is increasingly becoming a focus for public health. The government’s new Change4Life campaign focusses on new daily routines for children and parents alike, encouraging people to switch of the TV and get out and about as a family. We found support for this focus in the data: children who spent excessive amounts of sedentary time in front of a screen also reported lower subjective wellbeing.
However, if happiness and wellbeing are to be part of a healthier Britain, there are other factors which also need to be addressed. Spending time with family and getting off the couch play a part, but the wider social determinants of health and wellbeing also impact on our younger generations. As early as age seven, children living in deprived neighbourhoods are less likely to say they feel happy or that they are free of worries than those living in more affluent areas.
Our analysis found many factors may play a part in child wellbeing - and that taking a more holistic approach to healthy living, earlier, is a move in the right direction.