The three keys

Choice, family and enough money are the things that young people consistently cite as the keys to good well-being. Their importance has also been confirmed in our survey research as the most important influences on overall well-being.

The Good Childhood Index

The Good Childhood Index

As we gathered responses from young people concerning their well-being, we discovered that ten of the aspects of their lives that they emphasised as being most important together accounted for over half of the variation in overall well-being.

We identified these ten aspects as The Good Childhood Index. Together, they represent the most important elements of children's well-being.

Our new report presents new analysis of choice, family relationships, and money or possessions - the three most influential aspects of The Good Childhood Index.

Choice and autonomy

Happiness with choice is at its lowest among those in their early and mid-teens

Children's happiness with choice drops steadily between the ages of eight and 15, but then there is a marked rise from age 16.

This increase is greater than for any of the other aspects of life covered by our Good Childhood Index, suggesting that there is a mis-match between the amount of choice that children in their early teenage years have and how much they would like.

Interviews with young people aged 14 and 15 about choice highlight a number of key themes, including the importance of having loving, supportive family relationships on the one hand, and being given a reasonable level of choice or autonomy on the other.

Children also emphasised the important role that friends and peers play in relation to choice - especially when it comes to their appearance and self-expression.

Family relationships

Family harmony, parental support and autonomy-granting are fundamentally important to children, and each of these aspects of family life contributes to children's well-being.

In other words, children's well-being is associated with the amount of autonomy that they perceive in their family relationships, regardless of the levels of family harmony and parental support, and vice versa.

Money and possessions, or poverty and deprivation

Our previous Good Childhood Report found that children's direct experience of deprivation is more strongly related to well-being than household indicators of poverty.

Our new report analyses what life is like for the 5% of children who lack five items or more from our measure of deprivation.

In comparison to the large majority (71%) of children who lack none or one item, the poorest children have significantly lower well-being overall and for all of the aspects covered by The Good Childhood Index.

These young people are also:

  • 13 times more likely to feel unsafe at home
  • nine times less likely to feel that they have a lot to be proud of
  • six times less likely to feel positive about the future.