How parents give their children happy lives

Major scientific studies show how parents give their children happy lives. It’s not as simple as the headline sounds.

Science journalist, Helen Pearson translates the complex findings of the UK’s huge long-term cohort studies of childhood development so we can all learn from the results. Her TED talk is clear and amusing.

Ultimately, if we want happy children, all we can do is listen to the science, and of course listen to our children themselves.

Helen Pearson, TED Talk

Alongside the lifelong effects of social factors and poverty on children’s development from very early on, even quite specific lessons for good parenting can help beat those odds.

Of course, individual children are different and need their parents to look after their individual ways and needs. But these big studies of 1000s of children can tell us, in general, what happens and what works. For example, a regular bedtime and routine has positive effects whatever else is going on in their families’ lives.

When you’re shouting at your kids to go to bed on time, it really helps to have the scientific literature on your side.

Helen Pearson, TED Talk,

Helen Pearson has covered it all in more detail in her highly rated book, The Life Project.

Science tells us what kids can’t

Children may not know or be able to tell us directly what’s best for them in the long run. Adversity such as poverty or family troubles and separation demands wider system and culture change. That’s how good parenting and care from all who love and care for them can continue and grow.

But this kind of science can speak powerfully for the children. It can speak to parents and all those who care for kids.

Even if it seems rather obvious, the science means we can be more confident about how parents give their children happy lives.