What makes kids happy? A new iPod? The Wiggles? An industrial-sized pack of M&Ms?
A new study by Mark Holder at the University of British Columbia has checked in to the question of childhood happiness. And the findings might not be what you expect.
At the bottom of the contributing factors are money, the child’s gender and parents’ marital status, each adding less than a measly 1% to sense of happiness in the average child.
Seems the little guys know whether or not they’re rich – it just doesn’t matter that much.
Strong contributors are leisure activities like sport, as well as the child’s temperament.
But the big kahuna of childhood happiness is – drum-roll – sprituality, or an inner belief system, which accounts for 8-17% of sense of happiness in the average child. (Compare this with 4-5% in adults.)
Why spirituality? Could be the sense of hope, could be the ready-made social network of many religions – although in an article on the study the researchers were quick to say religion and spirituality are not the same.
Whatever it is that makes spirituality important to a child’s happiness, it’s worth knowing that how a child sees the world matters much, much more than the things they have.