Fegans are passionate about transforming the lives of children and families. This year, at New Wine United ’17, we launched our ‘Strength to Share’ campaign as part of our ongoing initiative to encourage children and parents to work towards a positive emotional wellbeing, end stigma, and open up the conversation around children and mental health.
627 Children had the ‘Strength to Share’
As part of our campaign, we created a ‘Happiness Display Box’, and a ‘Worries Post Box’ to encourage children to think about their mental health and emotional wellbeing in a fun, age-appropriate way. An amazing 566 children wrote what made them happy on coloured paper, and 61 children chose to also post a worry in the post box. This activity strengthened our insight into what makes children happy and what worries them as we continue to strive to gain a clearer view of the world viewed from the perspective of the child.
177 Parents had the ‘Strength to Share’
Our team also surveyed 177 individual parents to gain insight into what they were most worried about when it came to their children’s lives. Using a tick box of most common worries, parents shared their concerns. This information is vital for Fegans, so that we can continue to tailor our support to families, at home and in schools, and share our expertise to parents in areas that matter to them.
THE PARENTS’ RESPONSE
An overwhelming 72% of parents surveyed said that online safety was a concern. Whilst 50% were worried about bullying, and 36% exam stress. Other concerns cited included self harm, grooming, over-sexualisation, bullying as a result of faith, and peer-pressure.
The greatest concern by far was that of online safety. As children spend more time online, especially alone, parents are worried about how safe they are from this 24/7 threat. This subject was of more concern to parents than sexual behaviour and drugs and alcohol, demonstrating a greater need for support and shared knowledge for parents dealing with this ever-evolving digital world. Click here to see Fegans’ article on Online Safety
Parents worried about online safety
The detrimental effects of bullying in childrens’ lives are well documented, and 50% of parents surveyed expressed concerned about bullying in their child’s life. Bullying can cause great unhappiness to children, and sometimes parents are not aware this is the cause. We provide advice to parents on how to spot bullying, how to encourage a child to open up to their experiences, and help them take control over ending the bullying situation. See our parents article for more information.
- Mental Health 8 % 8 %
- Other 24% 24%
- Drugs and Alcohol 28% 28%
- Sexual Behaviour 31% 31%
- Exam Stress 36% 36%
- Bullying 50% 50%
- Online Safety 72% 72%
THE CHILDREN’S RESPONSE
When we asked children what made them happy, Family and Friends was by far the most popular response. 43% of the children that took part cited family and/or friends, or spending time with their family and friends, as the greatest influence on their happiness. Coming in second was hobbies, at 18%. Caring for animals, and love of pets also brings great joy to those asked, with 12% including their favourite animal in their response.
Children who said 'Friends and Family' contributed most to their happiness
The wonderful thing about our findings in children, was the response to ‘family and friends’ as a source of happiness. 43% said family and/or friends, drew pictures, love hearts and names. The family unit, both immediate and wider, was a very strong part of the inspiration behind many of the post-its.
18% found happiness in their hobbies
18% of the children mentioned a hobby as the thing that made them most happy, with 66% of those who wrote about a hobby, were into sport, and 36% were interested in the arts. What is interesting is that only two children mentioned video games (recorded as leisure activities) as the thing that made them happy, with technology not being mentioned at all by the other children.
- Family and Friends 43% 43%
- Hobbies 18% 18%
- Animal and Pets 12% 12%
- Religion 10% 10%
- Leisure Activities 8% 8%
- Food 4% 4%
- New Wine 4% 4%
- Education 1% 1%
As part of the ‘Strength to Share’ initiative, we also asked children to post their worries, in an anonymous post box. 10% of the 627 children who took part in the exercise posted a worry. In line with the happiness, so too children are most concerned with family and friends, specifically health and happiness within families. Out of the children who posted a worry 15% were worried about school, transition to new year groups, and secondary school. 10% of children were worried about injustice in the world, and war. 8% of children worried about bullying, and the same amount worried about the future. 7% worried about mental health issues such as anxiety and sadness.
by Ian Soars, CEO Fegans
A solution to your biggest worry?
The priorities and concerns of parents and their children can often be poles apart. In our ‘Strength to Share’ report the biggest concern among parents was online safety at 72% of parents concerned. However only two out of 566 children even mentioned going online, either positively or negatively. Every parent knows the pressure from their children to have tech, yet the children don’t see it as a key factor at all.
More important priorities than technology to children are hobbies, sports, friends, food and even their faith. Could it be that if our children saw more friends, enjoyed more hobbies, had more pets (yes, I feel the pain of that) the demand for tech would be less? Could it be that we are using tech to amuse our kids as an easier replacement for more parenting time, and as a consequence creating the very risks and fears we say are our greatest concerns?
85% parents working with Fegans’ support reported
improvement in boundaries and behavior*
Another surprise to us was how highly children regarded their friendships. Perhaps again as a way of reducing our reliance on tech we become intentional about our children’s friendships? In terms of exam stress (36%) parents can do much to alleviate this, reducing expectation on outcome and focusing on efforts instead.
A cursory glance at our parenting courses and expertise reveal that boundaries for children are most effective when set by parents, and that quality, child-led time is the basis of relationships in which such boundaries are successful. In short, perhaps the solution to many of our parent fears can be met not by trying to control the external environment, but by intentional, sacrificial engagement as parents.
This survey provides a timely prompt for us to consider that, as well as considering looking at the outside world, we must also take responsibility for creating an engaging family environment in which our kids can flourish.
*Data collected from parents taking part in Fegans’ parent support, including Parents Supporting Parents.