Strong families - flourishing children
From an article by The Sector (Early Education)
A study, led by researchers from the US institution, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has found that children living in families with higher levels of resilience and connection are much more likely to flourish. The likelihood of flourishing – that is, doing well in life despite adversity – is true for children across all levels of household income, health status and exposure to adverse childhood experiences.
The findings, published in Health Affairs, suggest that more emphasis should be placed on programmes to promote family resilience and parent-child connection, in conjunction with continued efforts to lessen children’s negative childhood experiences.
Dr Christina Bethell, lead author of the study, noted that family resilience and connection were key components required for all children to flourish, regardless of their level of adversity, adding that the connection between a parent and their child had “a particularly strong” association with child flourishing.
To conduct the study, data from the National Survey of Children’s Health were used, as findings from the survey provide a nationally representative sample of over 51,000 school-age children between ages of six and seventeen. Children’s parents or guardians answered a series of questions about child flourishing, family resilience and connection, the child’s exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), household income and whether the child had a chronic condition and special health care needs.
ACEs include a range of experiences associated with trauma and toxic stress in children, like exposure to household substance abuse, serious mental illness, family and neighbourhood violence and loss of a parent through death, incarceration or divorce. See this blog for more information on ACEs.
Researchers determined that children could be said to be “flourishing” if their parents reported that three things were “definitely true” about their children:
They were curious and interested in learning new things;
They were able to work to complete tasks they start; and,
They were able to stay calm and in control when faced with a challenge.
These qualities, researchers said, contribute to flourishing in adulthood, which is most fundamentally characterised by having a sense of meaning and engagement in life and positive relationships.
Parents also answered questions to assess family resilience and connection, including how families respond when facing problems, how well parents and children share ideas or talk about things that really matter and how well parents cope with the day-to-day demands of raising children. The study found that only 40% of children were flourishing. Nearly half of children (48%) lived in families that reported the highest levels of resilience and connection. These children had over three times greater odds of flourishing compared to the 25% per cent of children living in families reporting the lowest levels of resilience and connection.
Dr Bethell added, “With only four in ten children flourishing, we need population-wide approaches to promoting child flourishing. Especially critical are efforts to foster safe, stable and nurturing family relationships by encouraging parents to communicate with their children about things that really matter to the child and family.”.
Read the full article here.
See also the blog on What makes families resilient.
We need to recognise that family matters! Supporting the parent-child relationship is essential.
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