The Good
Childhood Report 2013

42,000 young people say what matters in their lives

For children in the UK, well-being rose steadily for 15 years, but halted in 2009 and may be falling. Why is that? What can you do about it?

Children's well-being has been one of our key concerns for many years. Our previous Good Childhood Report showed children's feelings about their relationships, themselves, the environments in which they live, school life, time use and having 'enough' money affect them. This year's report reveals further insights.

Teenagers are having a particularly hard time, with well-being declining steady from early teens to 16.

This year we raised the upper limit of our research from age 15 to 17 - and have a broader collection of data to draw from, both here and abroad.

Compared to other western countries, we aren't doing as well as we should for children. Our report finds that this likely won't change soon - while well-being had been rising steadily in the UK for 15 years, since 2009 that rise has halted and the trend may be in decline.

What young people say

Teenagers are having a particularly hard time, with well-being declining through the early teenage years and reaching its low point at age 15. This age group is particularly worried about school and about how they look compared to younger children.

We're concerned about this drop in well-being for teenagers.

Our report will describe what life is like for children with low well-being, and how well-being is related to longer-term outcomes.

What we can do

What is well-being?

Low well-being isn't inevitable. There is more that policy makers, professionals and families can do.

Children have told us that it is important for them to have some choice in their lives and be recognised as competent, autonomous individuals as they grow older.

Family relationships are incredibly important for children's well-being, and we have produced a guide for children and for parents about what they can do to improve well-being within their family. Our research shows that children do better in families that give their children autonomy, support and have low levels of conflict.

Identifying priorities

Following last year's Good Childhood Report, we identified priorities for our future research on children's well-being, including:

  • explore the well-being of specific sub-groups of children not well represented in general population surveys
  • investigate the connections between well-being and other issues in children's lives
  • learn more about ways in which children's well-being can be enhanced
  • continue to monitor children's well-being, particularly in view of changes in our society

The Good Childhood Report 2013 contains new evidence related to all four of these priorities, and places these new findings within the context of what has become one of the most extensive programmes of research on children's well-being so far conducted.

In particular, this report presents new findings relating to:

  • the age at which well-being drops to its lowest point
  • what life is like for children with low well-being
  • emerging trends in well-being over time
  • the extent to which children in this country could be described as 'flourishing'
  • a special focus on the three key factors related to well-being, choice, poverty and family relationships
  • new research on the ways in which information on well-being can be used by national and local government, services, families and children themselves.
Trends and outcomes

Trends and outcomes

What is the history of well-being research? What have children told us since we began our research in 2005?

The three keys

The three keys

What three things do young people consistently cite as the keys to good well-being?

Teenage well-being

The effects of teenagers' well-being drop are more than just 'grumpiness' - they're broad and far-reaching

What we can do

What can we do?

Research shows us key things we - parents, practitioners, all of us - can do to help boost young people's well-being. Have a look at our guide about ways you can improve well-being

The Good Childhood Report 2013

Read our full report

What we're presenting here on our website is a summary of The Good Childhood Report 2013. Visit our well-being section to find the full report with detailed information about our methodology, and detailed explanations of the many aspects of young people's well-being.