Flourishing

Children’s well-being within their families can be measured by assessing their ability to function within the family and community. Parents were asked a series of questions, based on the child’s age, about the extent to which they were flourishing in these contexts. For young children aged 6 months–5 years, parents were asked how often during the previous month the child was affectionate or tender, bounced 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 6–17 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 that 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 three items for their age group. These percentages did not vary significantly by location.

For both age groups and in all locations, children with higher household incomes were significantly more likely to meet all of the criteria for flourishing. Among young children, this difference was greatest in small rural areas, where 57.0 percent of children with household incomes below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) met all the criteria for flourishing, compared to 88.5 percent of children with household incomes of 400 percent or more of the FPL. In general, within each income category, the percentage of young children reported to be flourishing did not vary significantly by location, except that children in large and small rural areas with household incomes of 400 percent or more of the FPL were more likely to meet all the criteria than their urban peers (88.6 and 88.5 versus 81.8 percent, respectively).

Among school-aged children, the greatest differential between income groups was seen in large rural areas, where 35.1 percent of children with household incomes below the FPL were reported to be flourishing, compared to 58.0 percent of children with household incomes of 400 percent or more of the FPL. Within each income group, there were no significant differences across locations in the percentage of children meeting all criteria for flourishing.

Among young children, nearly all children in all locations were reported to usually or always be affectionate and tender with their parents, smile and laugh a lot, and show interest in learning new things. A smaller percentage, approximately 79 percent were reported to usually or always bounce back quickly when things did not go their way.

Among school-aged children, about 85 percent of children in all locations were reported to usually or always show interest in learning new things. A smaller percentage, just under two-thirds, were reported to usually or always finish tasks and follow through and to stay calm and in control when faced with a challenge. There were a few differences in flourishing criteria by location: children in large rural areas were slightly less likely than those in urban and small rural areas to be reported as usually or always finishing tasks and following through. Children in large rural areas were also slightly less likely than those in urban areas to be reported to usually or always stay calm and in control when faced with a challenge.

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