New research by The Open University and Oxford University suggests that parents taking part in interactive and arts related activities with their two and three year olds could help promote their happiness and development of everyday skills.
The study, An Economic Analysis of Child Development and Happiness, found that child happiness, as reported by their parents, was linked to how frequently the children were engaged in activities such as reading, storytelling, shopping, painting and doing arts and crafts. In contrast, passive activities like looking at picture books or watching television, brought no discernible benefits. Watching television in fact, appeared in this analysis to have a negative impact on child happiness that was statistically significant.
Results suggested that more active activities may boost the development of a child’s motor and social skills. For example, painting or engaging in arts and crafts, could promote the development of movement skills, while reading, telling stories and singing have a significant impact on both talking ability and social skills. More passive activities did not contribute to the development of these skills.
Commenting on the findings Paul Anand, Professor of Economics at The Open University, said:
Dr Laurence Roope, Researcher at the Health Economics Research Centre, Oxford University, said:
The study applied economic models to data drawn from the German Household Survey in the years 2007 to 2010. The data included responses from over 800 German parents about the happiness and wellbeing of their two and three year olds, the activities they took part in, and their development of talking, movement, and social skills.
The findings were presented at a conference on the economics of wellbeing at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)-Universities conference in Paris on 3 July.
The study received funding from the Leverhulme Trust.