Flourishing

Another approach to measuring children’s well-being within their families is to assess their ability to function within the family and community. A series of questions was asked, based on the child’s age, to assess the extent to which they were flourishing in these contexts. For young children aged 6 months through 5 years, parents were asked how often during the previous month the child was affectionate or tender; able to bounce back quickly when things didn’t go his or her way; showed interest and curiosity in learning new things; and smiled and laughed a lot. For children aged 6 to 17 years, parents were asked how often during the previous month the child finished the tasks he or she started and followed through with what he or she said he or she would do; stayed calm and in control when faced with a challenge; and showed interest and curiosity in learning new things. Overall, 73.2 percent of children aged 6 months-5 years were reported to usually or always meet all four items, and 47.7 percent of children aged 6-17 years were reported to usually or always meet all 3 items for their age group.

For both age groups, the percentage of children meeting all relevant criteria for flourishing varied by household income. More than half of children aged 6 months-5 years were reported to meet all of the criteria in every income group, ranging from 60.2 percent of children with household incomes below the Federal poverty level (FPL) to 82.0 percent of children with household incomes of 400 percent of the FPL or more. For older children, the percentage meeting all relevant criteria was much lower at every income level. The percentage of children aged 6-17 years reported to be flourishing ranged from 36.9 percent of children with household incomes below the Federal poverty level (FPL) to 56.3 percent of children with household incomes of 400 percent of the FPL or more.

Among younger children, nearly all were reported to usually or always be affectionate or tender with their parent, smile and laugh a lot, and show interest and curiosity in learning new things. A smaller percentage (78.7 percent) were reported to usually or always bounce back quickly when things didn’t go his or her way. Among older children, 85.0 percent usually or always show interest or curiosity in learning new things, but approximately two-thirds were reported to finish tasks they start and follow through (65.3 percent) and stay calm and in control when faced with a challenge (64.7 percent).