Most families want their children to be happy and healthy. Although recognising this as important, this chapter goes further, to discuss how we also need to raise children to become caring, community-minded, open to discovering what gives them meaning in life, and motivated to take responsibility for positive change in the world. Positive psychology evidence suggests that this enhances wellbeing for young people themselves as they grow. Some families need support to be able to parent well, and we suggest what and who might help. The chapter explores salient issues at infancy, early childhood, middle childhood and adolescence. It summarises the features of the parenting style that research says has the best outcomes and addresses the importance of ‘growing good men’. The chapter includes examples of positive actions, including by young people themselves. Finally, we look at progress towards meeting some of the 42 Articles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Helen Pearson (2017) Lessons from the longest-running study of human development in the world. TED.
There are also a number of relevant videos on the Education Resources page – eg this one from Rita Pierson:
Rita Pierson (2013) Every kid needs a champion. TED.
- The Good Childhood Report 2021
- Family Links (UK)
- Family Lives UK
- National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) (Australia)
- National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) (UK)
- Goodstart Early Learning (Australia)
- The Children’s Society (2021) The Good Childhood Report 2021.
- Matthew Warren (2019) Good at Heart? 10 psychology findings that reveal the better side of humanity. BPS Research Digest, 10 December 2019.
- Rosemary Roberts (2010) Wellbeing from Birth. Sage.
- June Statham & Elaine Chase (2010) Childhood Wellbeing: A Brief Overview. (includes the voices of children). Chase Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre.
- Silvia Exenberger & Barbara Juen (2014) Well-Being, Resilience and Quality of Life from Children’s Perspectives: A Contextualised Approach. Springer.
- Philippa Perry (2020) The Book You Wished Your Parents Had Read (and your children will be glad you did). Penguin.
- Tak Wing Chan & Anita Koo (2011) Parenting style and youth outcomes in the UK. European Sociological Review, 27(3), 385–399.
- Grosse, G., Simon, A., Soemer, A. et al. (2022) Teacher–Child Interaction Quality Fosters Working Memory and Social-Emotional Behavior in Two- and-Three-Year-Old Children. International Journal of Early Childhood. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13158-022-00327-w
- Emilia Dowling & Di Elliot (2012) Understanding children’s needs when parents separate. Speechmark Books.
- Urie Bronfenbrenner (Ed.) (2005) Making human beings human: Bioecological perspectives on human development. Sage.
- John Bowlby (1988) A secure base: Parent-child attachment and healthy human development. Basic Books.
- Ken Clark & Gary Ladd (2000) Connectedness and autonomy support in parent-child relationships: Links to children’s social-emotional orientation and peer relationships. Developmental Psychology, 36, 485- 498.
- James Gleeson, Chiang-Ming Hsieh & Qiana Cryer-Coupet (2016) Social support, family competence, and informal kinship carer parenting stress: The mediating and moderating effect of family resources. Children and Youth Services Review, 67, 32-42
- Sonja Jütte, Holly Bentley, Dan Tallis, Julia Mayes, Natasha Jetha, Orla O’Hagan, Helen Brookes & Nicola McConnell (2015) How safe are our children? The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK. NSPCC
- Holly Bentley, Andrew Fellowes, Stephanie Glenister, Niamh Mussen, Hannah Ruschen, Bethany Slater, Michelle Turnbull, Tom Vine, Paddy Wilson & Sarah Witcombe-Hayes (2020). How safe are our children? 2020: An overview of data on abuse of adolescents. NSPCC
- Emmy Werner (2005) What can we learn about resilience from large-scale longitudinal studies? In Sam Goldstein & Robert Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of Resilience in Children. Springer.
- Bonnie Kaul Nastasi & Amanda Borja (2016) International Handbook of Psychological Well-Being in Children and Adolescents: Bridging the Gaps Between Theory, Research, and Practice. Springer.
- Goodstart Early Learning (2017) Creating a sense of belonging for all children.
- Family Lives UK: Parenting a teenager can be exhausting so it’s important to look after yourself too.
- Elizabeth Gershoff (2013) Spanking and Child Development: We Know Enough Now to Stop Hitting Our Children. Child Development Perspectives, 7(3), 133-137.
- Jorge Cuartas, David Weissman, Margaret Sheridan, Liliana Lengua & Katie McLaughlin (2021) Corporal Punishment and Elevated Neural Response to Threat in Children. Child Development, 92(3), 821-832. “This Harvard study says spanking and other forms of corporal punishment have a negative effect on the brain similar to abuse. We need to stop hitting kids – full stop.” – Sue Roffey.
Nelson Mandela (1995) Speech at the launch of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation.
How we raise children matters for universal wellbeing
- Harvard Making Caring Common Project (2014) The Children we Mean to Raise: The Real Messages Adults are Sending about Values. Harvard Graduate School of Education.
- Marcia Carteret (2013) Culturally-Based Differences in Child Rearing Practices. Dimensions of Culture.
- Shaun Lohoar, Nick Butera & Edita Kennedy (2014) Strengths of Australian Aboriginal cultural practices in family life and child rearing. Australian Institute of Family Studies.
- Sharon McElroy & David Hevey (2013) Relationship between adverse early experiences, stressors, psychosocial resources and wellbeing. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(1).
- Emma Young (2019) The Psychological Impacts of Poverty. BPS Research Digest, December 2019.
- UNICEF (2015) Child protection overview.
- Urie Bronfenbrenner:
- (1979) Ecology of human development. Harvard University Press.
- (2005) The developing ecology of human development: Paradigm lost or paradigm regained. In Urie Bronfenbrenner (Ed.), Making human beings human: Bioecological perspectives on human development. Sage.
- Carole Upshur (1990) Early intervention as preventive intervention. In Jack Shonkoff & Samuel Meisels (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood intervention (pp. 633–650). Cambridge University Press. There is a new (2011) edition of this Handbook, which contains a number of other chapters on early intervention.
From birth to adolescence
First experiences of life
- Sue Gerhardt (2003) Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain. (2nd Edition 2014). Routledge.
- University of Turku (2019) Predictability of parent interaction positively influences child’s development. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2019.
- Dimitra Hartas (2014) The social context of parenting: mothers’ inner resources and social structures. Research Papers in Education, 30(5).
- Sue Roffey (2021) Childhood: The role of fathers.
- Michael Lamb (2010) How do Fathers Influence Child Development: Let me Count the ways. In Michael Lamb (Ed.), The Role of the Father in Child Development, 5th Edition. Wiley.
- Hillary Rodham Clinton (& Barbara Feinman) (1996) It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. Simon & Schuster.
- The early years
- [“a million new neural connections a second”]:
Harvard Center on the Developing Child (2017) Brain Architecture. Harvard University.
- Frederick Zimmerman, Dimitri Christakis, & Andrew Meltzoff (2007) Associations between media viewing and language development in children under age two years. The Journal of Paediatrics, 151(4), 364–368.
- Betty Hart & Todd Risley (1995) Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children. Paul H Brookes Publishing.
- Tina Malti (2020) Kindness: a perspective from developmental psychology. European Journal of Developmental Psychology
- Lee Rowland & Oliver Scott Curry (2018) A range of kindness activities boost happiness. The Journal of Social Psychology, 159(3)
Middle childhood: becoming part of a social world
- Roy Baumeister & Mark Leary (1995) The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497–529.
- Sue Roffey (2013) Inclusive and Exclusive Belonging: The impact on individual and community wellbeing. Educational and Child Psychology, 30(1), 38–49.
- Geoffrey Williams, Viking Hedberg, Elizabeth Cox & Edward Deci (2006) Extrinsic life goals and health-risk behaviours in adolescents. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30(8), 1756–1771.
- Alana Butler (2010) Adolescent Identity Development. ACT for Youth.
Iroise Dumontheil (2016) Adolescent brain development. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 10, 39-44.
- Xinyuan Fu, Laura Padilla-Walker & Michael Brown (2017) Longitudinal relations between adolescents’ self-esteem and prosocial behavior toward strangers, friends and family. Journal of Adolescence, 57, 90-98.
- Mark Greenberg (2006) Promoting resilience in children and youth: Preventive interventions and their interface with neuroscience. Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 1094, 139–150.
- David Hawkins, Richard Catalano, Rick Kosterman, R. Abbot & Karl Hill (1999) Preventing adolescent health risk behaviors by strengthening protection during childhood. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 153, 226–234.
- BBC Storyville (2021) I am Greta.
- Emma González (2018) Parkland Student Emma González Opens Up About Her Fight for Gun Control: “Adults are behaving like children.” Harpers Bazaar, Feb 16 2018.
- Malala Yousafzai (2020) Malala’s Story
Growing good men
- Silvia Sara Canetto & Anne Cleary (Eds.) (2012) Men, masculinities, and suicidal behaviour. Social Science and Medicine Special Issue, 74(4), 461–636.
- Dieter Henkel (2011) Unemployment and Substance Use: A Review of the Literature (1990-2010). Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 4, 4-27
- Eleanor Chestnut, Marianna Zhang & Ellen Markman (2021) “Just as good”: Learning gender stereotypes from attempts to counteract them. Developmental Psychology, 57(1), 114–125.
- Steve Silberman (2015) Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. Allen and Unwin.
Families that enable children – and the future – to flourish
- Amanda Morris, Lixian Cui & Laurence Steinberg (2013) Parenting research and themes: What we have learned and where to go next. In Robert Larzelere, Amanda Morris & Amanda Harrist (Eds.), Authoritative parenting: Synthesizing nurturance and discipline for optimal child development (pp.35–58). American Psychological Association.
- Claire Hughes, Gabriela Roman & Rosie Ensor (2014) Parenting and Executive Function: positive and negative influences. In Cary Cooper & Susan Landry (Eds.) Wellbeing: A complete reference guide, Volume 1 Children and Families, Part 2 Parenting and Children’s Development. Wiley On-line library.
Examples of positive action
- Kimberley Schonert-Reichl, Veronica Smith, Anat Zaidman-Zait & Clyde Hertzman (2012) Promoting children’s prosocial behaviours in school: Impact of the “Roots of Empathy” program on the social and emotional competence of school-aged children. School Mental Health, 4(1), 1–12.
- Brenda Dobia (2019) “Every client has a trauma history”. Teaching Respectful Relationships to Marginalised Youth. An evaluation of NAPCAN’s Respectful Relationships Program Northern Territory 2017–2018. Western Sydney University.
- #KindnessMatters for the SDGs – acts of kindness