Why Are Britain’s Children Unhappy?

I was quite amazed to read the other day that half a million children in the UK are unhappy. But then I sat for a while and thought about it, and my conclusion was that I am surprised the number is so low!!

An Unhappy Child - But Why?

Many will ask what the current generation have to complain about, and then compare the material things children have these days with what they had when they were growing up. Considering that we live in a hugely materialistic world these days, where owning an iPad, iPod, 46in. colour TV or computer is supposed to make one happy, it will come as a shock to most that this is not what makes for happy children. According to a report from The Children’s Society, who interviewed 30,000 children between the ages of eight and sixteen, it is a loving atmosphere at home that ranks the highest with our children.

It is often said by ‘people-in-the-know’ that the most important thing is a two-parent family to ensure a childs happiness. Well, the report proves them wrong. When you think about it, as a child where would you rather grow up, in a home where mum and dad are always arguing, or with just a mum (or dad) who loves you to bits?  I think the answer would be the same for everyone.

Mother and Child At Play

I personally do not like the idea of a one-parent family because I feel there should be balance in a child’s early life, and balance comes from receiving guidance from a mother and a father. Secondly, I have always felt that after childbirth, a woman’s place is in the home for at least the first five to six years of a child’s life, not out working. I know, I can hear the indignant snorts and guffaws from here as you think to yourself, we can’t afford it! The wife has to work or we can’t afford our holiday in Spain. I can only say, for the sake of your child’s well-being perhaps you should consider Blackpool for a couple of years.

Many will ask why such a thing is necessary, but to me it seems very important to always have at least one parent at home when they are young. How else can you teach your child right from wrong, what is required from them, and most important, discipline?

Typical Creche

It does no good to hand your child over to a virtual stranger at the local crèche every day and expect them to teach your child the essentials in life and how to behave. The mother, or alternatively the father, should be with the child every day at least until they start Primary School, for by that time you will have taught them how to behave, what is acceptable and what is not, and of course discipline. Chief among these things, a parent will have shown the child love and a caring attitude that is crucial to forming the future character of a child.

The report also highlighted a stable home as being highly beneficial to a child’s well-being. It does the child no good if a single mother changes her partner as often as she changes her underwear. Constant change within the family unit was found to be very detrimental, whereas a stable household was considered most beneficial, contributing much to a childs’ happiness.

Arguing? - The Child Feels It Too!

A surprising fact that came out of the survey is that children as young as eight fully understand what is going on when mum and dad discuss money problems in their presence, and it depresses them. Children can be surprisingly sensitive to their surroundings, and what is going on or being said in front of them. I believe that in the very young its more the tone of voice that gets through, especially when they don’t understand the words, and a few unguarded sentences in front of young children like “How on earth are we going to pay the TV licence next week” (desperation) gets picked up whether we want it to or not.

As children get older they start to worry about their looks, which often makes them unhappy. A young boy or girl with the infamous spots breaking out on their face will start to feel insecure, which leads to a general feeling of low self-esteem and unhappiness. Children like to be one of the herd, they like to belong to a group and feel valued within that group. If they have fewer clothes, gadgets, or less pocket-money than their friends they feel insecure and a reduced feeling of ‘belonging’ can lead to depression.

The Curse of Growing Up

Not quite being able to keep up with your ‘friends’ is also the best way of attracting bullies, which not so strangely, is another reason children today are unhappy. In every school in the land, on every street there are the bullies. They are a plague that young people could best do without, for they cause indescribable misery for tens of thousands of children every day and was listed in the survey as a significant cause of unhappiness in today’s children.

1950 - Playing Cowboys and Indians

Its a hard life being a child these days. In my day it was all about playing and generally having fun, but today its more about ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’, trying to please your friends, and getting the latest smartphone first so as to become the centre of attraction (if only for a short while) . Times have changed and so have a child’s priorities.

Let's Make Them All Happy

The most important thing any child needs in life is a loving family, a safe and positive environment, the right conditions for them to learn and grow, and self-respect. Given these things any child will grow to be a happy, self-assured and thoughtful adult. All we have to do is provide them with these things!!!!  Good Luck!

Roy.

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