What shapes seven-year-olds' subjective well-being? Prospective analysis of early childhood and parenting using the Growing Up in Scotland Study

Parkes, A. , Sweeting, H. and Wight, D. (2016) What shapes seven-year-olds' subjective well-being? Prospective analysis of early childhood and parenting using the Growing Up in Scotland Study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 51(10), pp. 1417-1428. (doi:10.1007/s00127-016-1246-z) (PMID:27357821) (PMCID:PMC5047922)

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Abstract

Purpose: Research on predictors of young children’s psychosocial well-being currently relies on adult-reported outcomes. This study investigated whether early family circumstances and parenting predict 7-year-olds’ subjective well-being. Methods: Information on supportive friendships, liking school and life satisfaction was obtained from 7-year-olds in one Growing Up in Scotland birth cohort in 2012–2013 (N = 2869). Mothers provided information on early childhood factors from 10 to 34 months, parenting (dysfunctional parenting, home learning and protectiveness) from 46 to 70 months, and 7-year-olds’ adjustment. Multivariable path models explored associations between early childhood factors, parenting and 7-year-olds’ subjective well-being. Supplementary analyses compared findings with those for mother-reported adjustment. Results: In a model of early childhood factors, maternal distress predicted less supportive friendships and lower life satisfaction (coefficients −0.12), poverty predicted less supportive friendships (−0.09) and remote location predicted all outcomes (−0.20 to −0.27). In a model with parenting added, dysfunctional parenting predicted all outcomes (−10 to −0.16), home learning predicted liking school (0.11) and life satisfaction (0.08), and protectiveness predicted life satisfaction (0.08). Effects of maternal distress were fully mediated, largely via dysfunctional parenting, while home learning mediated negative effects of low maternal education. Direct effects of poverty and remote location remained. Findings for mother-reported child adjustment were broadly similar. Conclusions: Unique prospective data show parenting and early childhood impact 7-year-olds’ subjective well-being. They underline the benefits for children of targeting parental mental health and dysfunctional parenting, and helping parents develop skills to support children at home and school.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wight, Professor Daniel and Parkes, Dr Alison and Sweeting, Dr Helen
Authors: Parkes, A., Sweeting, H., and Wight, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Journal Name:Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0933-7954
ISSN (Online):1433-9285
Published Online:30 June 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 51(10):1417-1428
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
656641Children, Young People, Families and Health ProgrammeDaniel WightMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/9IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
656581Gender and HealthKathryn HuntMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/3IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727631SPHSU Core Renewal: Relationships & Health Improvement Research ProgrammeLisa McDaidMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/11IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727641SPHSU Core Renewal: Setting and Health Improvement Research ProgrammeKathryn HuntMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/12IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU