Posted: 18 January 2012

If you influence children's lives, you can promote well-being

Last week we launched The Good Childhood Report 2012, which drew upon over 30,000 8-to-15-year-olds' thoughts on their well-being. We asked how satisfied they are with their lives as a whole, and their satisfaction with their family life, school and other aspects of their lives.

What came through loud and clear when we reviewed the evidence was that young people have six key priorities for their positive well-being.

Young people's priorities are to have the right conditions to grow and develop; a positive view of themselves and an identity that is respected; enough of the experiences and items that matter; loving, caring relationships with family and friends; a safe and stable home environment and local area and opportunities to take part in positive activities to thrive.

If you have any sort of influence over children’s lives – as a policy-maker, a doctor, a care worker or other role – we urge you to keep these priorities in mind when making decisions that influence children’s lives.

Incorporating young people's priorities

In our report for decision-makers in local areas, central government and parliament, Promoting positive well-being for children we set out steps you can take to create and measure policies which will have a positive effect on children’s well-being.

These include a checklist that policy makers can use to begin to understand the impact that their policy might have on children’s well-being, the evidence supporting the six priorities for children’s well-being, and some of the questions and indexes that can be used to measure how children’s well-being is changing at home, in school or in their local area.

Promoting young people's well-being

However, these steps contain simple messages for all people who have influence in children’s lives, not just for public policy makers.

For example, key themes running through the report are that children must have an active say in decisions that affect them, that they should be respected and valued for who they are, and that they need positive, caring relationships with people around them.

If everyone with a responsibility for children applies the six priorities, and the key themes running through them, collectively we can make the UK one of the best places in the world for children to grow up. We can ensure that all children can have a good childhood and the best chance for a positive future.

By David Hounsell, Economic Adviser at The Children’s Society

By David Hounsell - Policy team

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My concern as a mother of an eight month old I think a lot about my son's future and I know that I will do my utmost to raise him to be positive and happy with a high self-esteem (minus the ego). But I know that this will not be the case for other children who's parents do not have the same knowledge that I have gained through my coaching training. I am confident that I am adequately equipped with the relevant skills and tools which I can then pass to my children so they are equipped with the life skills at an early age to possess a healthy sense of well-being. I wish I knew what I know now when I was a child because I would have conducted my life very differently. However, I am very grateful that I can now be an effective parent and raise my children to be effective human beings and make a positive impact and contribution to society.
I believe that most parents and teachers have only the very best intentions when it comes to their children and just don't realize what they are doing is affecting their children in a negative way. I think raising awareness of just how important it is to support children in championing their self-esteem would contribute to the happiness and well-being of our children. However, this means a shift in the attitudes of parents and teachers to also adopt the same attitude they are teaching the kids in order to walk their talk.