Although we would love to think that all children are growing up in optimal conditions, sadly this simply isn't the case. A new study that has been released on the well-being of children in the U.S. has found that "less than half" of American children are "flourishing."
Health Affairs posted a study that showed that only approximately 40% of U.S. children are "flourishing", as defined by 3 distinct criteria. These were: interest/curiosity for new learning, persistence with task completion, and the ability to regulate emotion.
This study additionally found that there were specific characteristics of the child's family that helped for flourishing. These characteristics seemed to help the child flourish despite any other risk factors (such as income level and adversity).
The family characteristics that helped a child flourish were resilience, and connection between the parent and child.
Resilience was defined as the ability of the family to cope as a unit in facing problems, communicating and handling daily hardships. Family connection was characterized as the loving relationship between the parents and child.
This study found that the higher levels of connection and resilience were associated with a better chance of the child flourishing in any scenario. This was consistent even despite cases of poverty or medical conditions.
Researchers hypothesized that flourishing in childhood is likely to lay the groundwork for a happier more well-adjusted adult. These children may grow up to have better interpersonal relationships and overall life satisfaction.
This study used a large sample of children between the ages of 6 and 17, and was conducted over the course of a year.
The findings of this study are concerning in the sense that there are so many children out there who are not flourishing. However a positive outcome is the identification of the importance of connection and resilience in the child's development. It shows the importance of creating a safe environment where the child feels nurtured and has a stable interpersonal environment.
When looking at early interventions for children at risk, focusing on helping families to establish resilience and connection might just be the key to more positive outcomes. This would have great benefits not only for the child but likely for the family as a whole.