Middle childhood socio-emotional wellbeing

Girl looking over her shoulder in a classroom setting

Our current knowledge of factors shaping wellbeing in middle childhood (6-12 years), and the consequences of middle childhood for later development, is limited compared to the wealth of information on the early years and adolescence. Although middle childhood is a comparatively stable developmental period, there are nonetheless important challenges with more time spent outside the family, including adjusting to both academic and social environments at primary school. The contribution of the primary school experiences to middle childhood wellbeing, over and above the effect of family influences, is as yet unclear; as are the longer-term effects of middle childhood on adolescent health outcomes. A further limitation to existing research on middle childhood wellbeing is its reliance on information from adults, neglecting children’s own views of their happiness.

Using two cohort studies - Growing Up in Scotland, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children - we will explore early childhood and school-age influences on socio-emotional wellbeing in middle childhood, including child-reported wellbeing. We will also explore the contribution of middle childhood experiences and wellbeing to adolescent mental health and risk involvement. Part of this work extends into the Settings and Organisations programme, as it includes investigation of effects of primary school context (e.g. school composition and ethos), as well as children’s individual experiences of school (e.g. relations with teachers).

MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit logo 800 wide