Child Indicators Research

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 791–819 | Cite as

Children and Young Peoples’ Views on Well-Being: A Qualitative Study

  • Maja Tadić VujčićEmail author
  • Andreja Brajša-Žganec
  • Renata Franc


The main purpose of the present study was to examine children and young people’s (CYP) perspectives on well-being. In order to gain an in-depth understanding of the mechanisms through which CYP can flourish, it is necessary to examine the positive indicators of well-being in addition to negative aspects of childhood and adolescence. In doing so, it is important to understand the meanings CYP attach to well-being. We performed 10 semi-structured interviews and 2 focus groups with children (10–12 years old) and adolescents (15–16 years old) in 2 contrasting schools (different types with different background pupils). We also performed 10 semi-structured interviews and 2 focus groups with young people (16–19 years old) who are representative of different social groups and different levels of civic engagement. The participants of the study were gender balanced. The study strictly followed all of the relevant ethical standards related to research involving CYP. The results of this qualitative study provided a better insight into CYP’s global understanding of well-being, happiness, and life satisfaction by revealing how CYP themselves experience different aspects of well-being, and what they think are the most relevant factors that determine their well-being. The study also demonstrated how the CYP’s family, friends, school, environment, health, and material issues determine their well-being. These findings can be used to address and optimized specific difficulties and challenges of investigating children’s and young people’s well-being.


Subjective well-being Qualitative study Children and young people’s perspectives Happiness Life satisfaction 



The data reported in this paper were collected by a Croatian team of researchers within a large international research project entitled Measuring Youth Well-Being. We would like to thank to the researchers who also contributed to the data collection: Ljiljana Kaliterna Lipovčan; Toni Babarović; Ines Sučić; Jelena Maričić.


  1. Amato, P. R. (2010). Research on divorce: Continuing trends and new developments. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72(3), 650–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andresen, S., Ben-Arieh, A., Bradshaw, J., Casas, F., & Rees, G. (2015). Children’s views on their lives and well-being in 15 countries: A report on the Children’s Worlds survey, 2013–14. In G. Rees & G. Main (Eds.). York, UK: Children’s Worlds Project (ISCWeB).Google Scholar
  3. Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Finkenauer, C., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Bad is stronger than good. Review of General Psychology, 5(4), 323–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ben-Arieh, A., Casas, F., Frønes, I., & Korbin, J. E. (2014). Multifaceted concept of child well-being. In A. Ben-Arieh, F. Casas, I. Frønes, & J. E. Korbin (Eds.), Handbook of child well-being: Theories, methods and policies in global perspective (pp. 1–27). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bradshaw, J., Hoelscher, P., & Richardson, D. (2006). An index of child well-being in the European Union. Social Indicators Research, 80(1), 133–177. Scholar
  6. Bradshaw, J., & Richardson, D. (2009). An index of child well-being in Europe. Child Indicators Research, 2(3), 319–351. Scholar
  7. Brindal, E., Hendrie, G., Thompson, K., & Blunden, S. (2012). How do Australian junior primary school children perceive the concepts of “healthy” and “unhealthy”? Health Education, 112(5), 406–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822–848. Scholar
  9. Camfield, L., Crivello, G., & Woodhead, M. (2009). Wellbeing research in developing countries: Reviewing the role of qualitative methods. Social Indicators Research, 90(1), 5–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Camfield, L., & Tafere, Y. (2009). ‘No, living well does not mean being rich’: Diverse understandings of well-being among 11–13-year-old children in three Ethiopian communities. Journal of children and poverty, 15(2), 119–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Casas, F. (2016a). Children participating in measuring what matters–why, when, how? Learning for Well-being Magazine, 1, 1–7.Google Scholar
  12. Casas, F. (2016b). Children, adolescents and quality of life: The social sciences perspective over two decades. In F. Maggino (Ed.), A life devoted to quality of life: Festschrift in honor of Alex C. Michalos (pp. 3–21). Cham: Springer International Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coyne, I. (2010). Accessing children as research participants: Examining the role of gatekeepers. Child: Care, Health and Development, 36(4), 452–454.Google Scholar
  14. Coyne, I. T. (1997). Sampling in qualitative research. Purposeful and theoretical sampling; merging or clear boundaries? Journal of Advanced Nursing, 26(3), 623–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crivello, G., Camfield, L., & Woodhead, M. (2009). How can children tell us about their wellbeing? Exploring the potential of participatory research approaches within young lives. Social Indicators Research, 90(1), 51–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Currie, C., Zanotti, C., Morgan, A., Currie, D., Looze, M. d., Roberts, C., . . . Barnekow, V. (2012). Social determinants of health and well-being among young people: Health behaviour in school-aged children (HBSC) study: International report from the 2009/2010 survey Health Policy for Children and Adolescents. Copenhagen, Denmark: WHO Regional Office for Europe.Google Scholar
  17. De Neve, J.-E., Diener, E., Tay, L., & Xuereb, C. (2013). The objective benefits of subjective well-being. In J. Helliwell, R. Layard, & J. Sachs (Eds.), World happiness report 2013 (pp. 54–79). New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  18. Deci, E. L., La Guardia, J. G., Moller, A. C., Scheiner, M. J., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). On the benefits of giving as well as receiving autonomy support: Mutuality in close friendships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(3), 313–327. Scholar
  19. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008a). Facilitating optimal motivation and psychological well-being across life's domains. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 49(1), 14–23. Scholar
  20. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008b). Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 49(3), 182–185. Scholar
  21. Demir, M., Özdemir, M., & Weitekamp, L. A. (2006). Looking to happy tomorrows with friends: Best and close friendships as they predict happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8(2), 243–271. Scholar
  22. Demır, M., & Weitekamp, L. A. (2006). I am so happy ‘cause today I found my friend: Friendship and personality as predictors of happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8(2), 181–211. Scholar
  23. Dex, S., & Hollingworth, K. (2012). Children’s and young people’s voices on their well-being The Childhood Well-being Research Centre working paper (Vol. 14). London: Institute of Education.Google Scholar
  24. Diener, E. (2012). New findings and future directions for subjective well-being research. American Psychologist, 67(8), 590–597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Diener, E. (2013). The remarkable changes in the science of subjective well-being. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(6), 663–666. Scholar
  26. Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Tay, L. (2018). Advances in subjective well-being research. Nature Human Behavior, 2(4), 253–260. Scholar
  27. Dinisman, T., Fernandes, L., & Main, G. (2015). Findings from the first wave of the ISCWeB project: International perspectives on child subjective well-being. Child Indicators Research, 8(1), 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Eder, D., & Fingerson, L. (2002). Interviewing children and adolescents. In J. F. Gubrium & J. A. Holstein (Eds.), Handbook of interview research: Context and method (Vol. 1, pp. 181–203). London: SAGE.Google Scholar
  29. Fattore, T., Mason, J., & Watson, E. (2009). When children are asked about their well-being: Towards a framework for guiding policy. Child Indicators Research, 2(1), 57–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fattore, T., Mason, J., & Watson, E. (2012). Locating the child centrally as subject in research: Towards a child interpretation of well-being. Child Indicators Research, 5(3), 423–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gabhainn, S. N., & Sixsmith, J. (2005). Children’s understandings of well-being. Galway: Department of Health Promotion, Centre for Health Promotion Studies, National University of Ireland.Google Scholar
  32. Gale, N. K., Heath, G., Cameron, E., Rashid, S., & Redwood, S. (2013). Using the framework method for the analysis of qualitative data in multi-disciplinary health research. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 13(1), 117. Scholar
  33. Garland, E. L., Gaylord, S. A., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2011). Positive reappraisal mediates the stress-reductive effects of mindfulness: An upward spiral process. Mindfulness, 2(1), 59–67. Scholar
  34. Gibson, F. (2007). Conducting focus groups with children and young people: Strategies for success. Journal of Research in Nursing, 12(5), 473–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gilman, R., & Huebner, E. S. (2003). A review of life satisfaction research with children and adolescents. School Psychology Quarterly, 18(2), 192–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Gilman, R., & Huebner, E. S. (2006). Characteristics of adolescents who report very high life satisfaction. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35(3), 293–301. Scholar
  37. Goswami, H., Fox, C., & Pollock, G. (2015). The current evidence base and future needs in improving Children’s well-being across Europe: Is there a case for a comparative longitudinal survey? Child Indicators Research, 1–18.
  38. Grossman, M., & Rowat, K. M. (1995). Parental relationships, coping strategies, received support, and well-being in adolescents of separated or divorced and married parents. Research in Nursing & Health, 18(3), 249–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hamlin, K. J., Wynn, K., & Bloom, P. (2010). Three-month-olds show a negativity bias in their social evaluations. Developmental Science, 13(6), 923–929. Scholar
  40. Hanafin, J., Shevlin, M., Kenny, M., & Mc Neela, E. (2007). Including young people with disabilities: Assessment challenges in higher education. Higher Education, 54(3), 435–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Holder, M. D. (2012). Understanding the construct of positive well-being and happiness Happiness in Children (pp. 1–4): Springer Netherlands.Google Scholar
  42. Holder, M. D., & Klassen, A. (2010). Temperament and happiness in children. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11(4), 419–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Huebner, E. S. (2004). Research on assessment of life satisfaction of children and adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 66(1–2), 3–33.Google Scholar
  44. Huppert, F. A. (2009). Psychological well-being: Evidence regarding its causes and consequences. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 1(2), 137–164.Google Scholar
  45. Huppert, F. A. (2014). The state of wellbeing science: Concepts, measures, interventions, and policies. In F. A. Huppert & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Wellbeing: A complete reference guide (Vol. 6, pp. 1–49). Oxford, UK: John Wiley and Sons, Inc..Google Scholar
  46. Huppert, F. A., & Baylis, N. (2004). Well-being: Towards an integration of psychology, neurobiology and social science. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 359(1449), 1447–1451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Huppert, F. A., & So, T. T. (2013). Flourishing across Europe: Application of a new conceptual framework for defining well-being. Social Indicators Research, 110(3), 837–861. Scholar
  48. Kiken, L. G., & Shook, N. J. (2011). Looking up: Mindfulness increases positive judgments and reduces negativity bias. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1948550610396585.Google Scholar
  49. Mason, J., & Danby, S. (2011). Children as experts in their lives: Child inclusive research. Child Indicators Research, 4(2), 185–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McAuley, C. (2012). Editorial: International advances in child well-being: Measuring and monitoring subjective well-being. Child Indicators Research, 5(3), 419–421. Scholar
  51. McAuley, C., & Rose, W. (2014). Children’s social and emotional relationships and well-being: From the perspective of the child. Handbook of child well-being: Theories, methods and policies in global perspective, 1865–1892.Google Scholar
  52. O'Higgins, S., Sixsmith, J., & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2010). Adolescents' perceptions of the words “health” and “happy”. Health Education, 110(5), 367–381. Scholar
  53. Palinkas, L. A., Horwitz, S. M., Green, C. A., Wisdom, J. P., Duan, N., & Hoagwood, K. (2015). Purposeful sampling for qualitative data collection and analysis in mixed method implementation research. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 42(5), 533–544. Scholar
  54. Posner, J., Russell, J. A., & Peterson, B. S. (2005). The circumplex model of affect: An integrative approach to affective neuroscience, cognitive development, and psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 17(3), 715–734.Google Scholar
  55. Proctor, C., Alex Linley, P., & Maltby, J. (2009). Youth life satisfaction measures: A review. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(2), 128–144. Scholar
  56. Proctor, C., Linley, P. A., & Maltby, J. (2010). Very happy youths: Benefits of very high life satisfaction among adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 98(3), 519–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rabiee, F. (2004). Focus-group interview and data analysis. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 63(04), 655–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Richardson, D., & Ali, N. (2014). An evaluation of international surveys of children OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers (Vol. 46). Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  59. Ritchie, J., & Lewis, J. (2003). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. London: Sage Publications Inc..Google Scholar
  60. Ryan, R. M., Huta, V., & Deci, E. L. (2013). Living Well: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective on Eudaimonia. In A. Delle Fave (Ed.), The Exploration of Happiness (pp. 117–139): Springer Netherlands.Google Scholar
  61. Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. H. (2008). Know thyself and become what you are: A eudaimonic approach to psychological well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9(1), 13–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sheldon, K. M., Abad, N., Ferguson, Y., Gunz, A., Houser-Marko, L., Nichols, C. P., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Persistent pursuit of need-satisfying goals leads to increased happiness: A 6-month experimental longitudinal study. Motivation and Emotion, 34(1), 39–48. Scholar
  63. Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1999). Goal striving, need satisfaction, and longitudinal well-being: The self-concordance model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(3), 482–497. Scholar
  64. Sixsmith, J., Gabhainn, S. N., Fleming, C., & O'Higgins, S. (2007). Childrens', parents' and teachers' perceptions of child wellbeing. Health Education, 107(6), 511–523. Scholar
  65. Skånfors, L. (2009). Ethics in child research: Children's agency and researchers”ethical radar'. Childhoods Today, 3(1).Google Scholar
  66. Spilsbury, J. C., Korbin, J. E., & Coulton, C. J. (2009). Mapping children’s neighborhood perceptions: Implications for child indicators. Child Indicators Research, 2(2), 111–131. Scholar
  67. Taylor, R., Olds, T., Boshoff, K., & Lane, A. (2010). Children's conceptualization of the term ‘satisfaction’: Relevance for measuring health outcomes. Child: Care, Health and Development, 36(5), 663–669. Scholar
  68. Tian, L., Chen, H., & Huebner, E. S. (2014). The longitudinal relationships between basic psychological needs satisfaction at school and school-related subjective well-being in adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 119(1), 353–372. Scholar
  69. Tomyn, A. J., & Cummins, R. A. (2011). The subjective well-being of high-school students: Validating the personal wellbeing index—School children. Social Indicators Research, 101(3), 405–418. Scholar
  70. Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Resilient Individuals Use Positive Emotions to Bounce Back From Negative Emotional Experiences (Vol. 86, pp. 320–333). Scholar
  71. Uusitalo-Malmivaara, L. (2012). Global and school-related happiness in Finnish children. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(4), 601–619.Google Scholar
  72. Vaish, A., Grossmann, T., & Woodward, A. (2008). Not all emotions are created equal: The negativity bias in social-emotional development. Psychological Bulletin, 134(3), 383–403. Scholar
  73. Wojciszke, B., Brycz, H., & Borkenau, P. (1993). Effects of information content and evaluative extremity on positivity and negativity biases. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(3), 327–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyInstitute of social sciences Ivo PilarZagrebCroatia

Personalised recommendations