Research and analysis

Family stressors and children's outcomes

This research looked at family stress factors and parental behaviour associated with both successful and poor outcomes for children aged 7.


Family stressors and children's outcomes

Family stressors and children's outcomes - brief

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Differences in children’s outcomes have been shown to emerge early in life and to be linked to both family circumstances, such as social disadvantage, and to parenting behaviours, like parenting style and activities with the child. Both these aspects of a child’s environment are important for their early cognitive and emotional development. But it is not clear whether these early differences, and the factors associated with them, persist up to age 7.

Previous research has also shown that stressful life events are associated with worse outcomes for children. However, it has not previously been possible to explore whether particular life events are especially detrimental, whether they impact across different sorts of children’s outcomes (educational, social etc.), and whether the effects of early childhood events persist into adolescence.

This research aimed to identify the family stress factors and parental behaviours that were associated with worse children’s outcomes at age 7 and those family factors and parental behaviour that helped children to succeed. It also set out to identify whether stressful life events experienced at different periods of childhood were associated with worse outcomes in adolescence.