After discussing some of the factors that might be involved in this finding, as well as looking at children’s lives in more depth, the report offers six priorities that decision makers should bear in mind:
1. The right conditions to learn and develop
2. A positive view of themselves and a respect for their identity
3. Enough of the items and experiences that matter to them
4. Positive relationships with their family and friends
5. A safe and suitable home environment and local area
6. The opportunities to take part in positive activities that help them thrive
All of which I can go along with, but I do have a slight question about one of them: priority number 3, in particular the bit about “Enough… items…that matter to them”. The report notes that children feel unhappy when they feel too different from their friends, and that this can relate to clothes, things they own, and pocket money, and I can see this with both my own children and the young people I work with. But is the answer really to make sure they have enough of the things that matter to them?
Might it not be better to begin challenging what matters to them? The thing is, children are children, and mainly they copy what they see around them. We adults have created a world for them in which the “items that matter” are consumer goods; phones, laptops, the latest version of Halo or Jack Wills clothing. I have to confess that I can be as guilty of this as anyone…just check out my iPhone 4! But maybe if we showed them that some of the items that matter to us have little monetary value they might begin to copy that.
I’d also like to have a discussion about what the word “enough” means, but I’ll save that for another day.