The Childrens Society

What factors
affect well-being?

The way children behave and the activities they take part in are linked to their well-being. The Good Childhood Report 2014 reveals how, and explores the relationship between poverty and well-being, and how parents' own well-being and behaviour affect their children.

Children's activities and behaviours

In last year's Good Childhood report, we showed that there were links between certain activities children take part in and their subjective well-being. This year we explored this topic further, using new data on 11-year-olds, and found that children who take part in sport and other activities regularly are happier, as are children who have good friendships and someone to talk to about their problems.

Frequency of playing sports or active games, inside or outside, and low well-being

It is easy to be happy because your friends are there.

Year 10 pupil

We also found some interesting trends around internet activity. Children who go online around once a week are happier than their peers, and children who never go online are almost twice as likely to be unhappy than those who do so around once a week. But children who never use social networks had the highest well-being.

Frequency of using the internet (not at school), and low well-being

Poverty and material deprivation

We know that children's living standards have a strong influence on their lives both now and in the future, but the link between household income and children's well-being is not strong. However, there is evidence that parents' money worries are being passed on to their children, and children who said that the economic crisis had a stronger impact on their families had lower levels of subjective well-being.

The proportion of children reporting a worsening financial situation, by the impact of the economic crisis

Source: The Children's Society survey 2014. Age: 14 years old. Scope: England. Sample size: 878

The environment does make me feel unhealthy because I live in a bad, dangerous, ugly, poor and horrible town.

Year 7 pupil

Children who have the same as their peers or enough to join in with friends are happier, while those who have less, or even those that have a lot more, have lower well-being. Children who aspire to have a worthwhile job have slightly higher well-being than those who want to be famous or earn a lot of money.

Perceptions of family wealth and children's subjective well-being

Source: The Children's Society survey 2014. Age: 14 years old. Scope: England. Sample size: 878

Girls grow up around their Mum's constantly saying that they need to lose weight so you are under the impression that you are unattractive.

Girl, Year 10

Parents' well-being and behaviour

The Good Childhood Report 2014 presents new analysis of the links between parental well-being and their children's well-being and looks at how specific parenting behaviours may impact on the well-being of children aged 14-15 years old.

We found a significant link between the well-being of parents and their children. Around 10% of children living with a severely depressed parent had low well-being, compared to around 6% of children who did not.

We also found that learning support is patchy: 97% of young people said that their parents often or always made sure they attended school, but only 63% said the same when it came to parents helping them to learn things outside school. Supporting children emotionally by doing things like praising them for doing well or supporting them if they were upset had the strongest link to children's well-being.