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My dream
is to make
others happy
My dream is to make others happy

The Good Childhood Report

Modern life has been chipping away at children’s happiness over time. Our Good Childhood Report 2020 finds this toxic trend continues.

Our key findings

  • Average happiness with life among 10 to 15 year olds in the UK continues to decline
  • Children are becoming less happy with their friendships
  • 15 year olds in the UK are among the saddest and least satisfied with their lives in Europe
  • The Coronavirus pandemic has left many children feeling they lack choices in life.

Restart button

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Children’s happiness with life has been in decline for most of the last decade and this year is no exception. Worries about relationships with friends, appearance and school seem to be key factors. Even before the pandemic, 15 year olds in the UK were among the saddest and least satisfied with their lives in Europe. It is time to listen to what young people need.

As we emerge from the coronavirus crisis, we can hit the restart button. We need to kick-start a decade of renewal for young people.

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Children have missed out on more than just time in the classroom this year.

Call on the Government to put children's well-being at the heart of their education recovery plans.
Email your MP and join the fight back for children's futures.

High ranking in Europe

We compared children's well-being in the UK with 21 other European countries. We rank highly, but for the wrong reasons.

The UK showed the largest drop in life satisfaction between 2015 and 2018 of these comparable countries. In Europe, young people in the UK are some of least satisfied with their lives. 

Good childhood map

Map of Europe showing childhood satisfaction lowest in the UK

fear of failing

Fear of failure

Perhaps this is down to a fear of failure. Our report highlights the high levels of ‘fear of failure’ among 15 year olds in the UK compared to other countries. Many felt their life didn’t have a sense of purpose.

With exam stress, bullying, and school culture, more and more young people are becoming unhappy with school. 

Our education system needs a rethink. Well-being and academic achievement should go hand-in-hand. 

young school girl smiling
Boy in school library smiling

People who love me can make me happy at the worst times People who love me can make me happy at the worst times



One of the most concerning trends is the decline in children’s friendships. There are an estimated 132,000 children aged 10 to 15 in this country have no close friends. Some link this trend to social media, but it is more complicated than this. 

Outside of school there is a crucial role for Youth Services in improving well-being and helping young people form strong peer relationships.

Young people we talked to created a friendship guide for other young people. They also created a friendship guide to help adults support their child's friendships. 

group of friends taking a selfie

The Good Childhood Report

For more information about the dominant trends in children's well-being, read the full report.

Read the full report
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