4. Positive relationships with family and friends

Children want and need positive, loving relationships with the people closest to them. Overall, the strongest driver of low subjective well-being is where children experience weak and uncaring relationships with their families or carers. Children also need positive, stable, relationships with their friends, with social isolation being a strong driver of low well-being.

  • The quality of relationships between children and their families is 10 times more powerful in explaining levels of well-being than specific family structures.
  • Children having an active say in decisions that affect them within the family is also a key driver for their overall life satisfaction.
  • Children who feel isolated from their friends are four times as likely to have low well-being as those who do not. Friendships become more important as an aid to social and emotional growth as children reach adolescence.*

*Goswami H (2011), Social Relationships and Children’s Subjective Well-being. London: Springer