Children are more likely to succeed if they live in this type of environment

Kids flourish when they have strong family connections, which can be strengthened around the dinner table.

(CNN)Children with strong family connections are associated with a high likelihood of flourishing in life, a new study found.

Numerous studies have shown that strong family bonds lower the chances of poor outcomes in children such as risky behaviors and drug abuse, but this study revealed that there may be positive outcomes as well, said lead study author Dr. Robert Whitaker, director of the Columbia-Bassett research program at Columbia University in New York City.
"What was different about this study was it showed that family connection is associated with thriving and not just surviving or avoiding harm," Whitaker said.
    Researchers surveyed over 37,000 children in 26 countries and found adolescents who reported having a great bond with their family also reported that they were succeeding in life.
      The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, included children ages 11 to 13 years old who were surveyed between 2016 and 2019.
      The data was gathered across Europe, Africa, Asia and South America from the International Survey of Children's Well-Being, a survey supported by the Jacobs Foundation, a Zurich-based organization that focuses on providing schools around the globe with science-based knowledge to help kids succeed.
      Family connection was determined by a mean score of five categories: care, support, safety, respect, and participation. For each subject, participants were given a statement and asked to assess how much they agreed with it, scoring from zero (do not agree) to 4 (strongly agree). For example, to measure care, children were asked how much they agreed with the statement, "I feel safe at home."
        The essence of family connection is children feeling that they are accepted and nurtured at home, which allows them to learn what their strengths and weaknesses are in a safe environment as they are building their identity, Whitaker said.
        Flourishing was determined by a mean score of six categories: self-acceptance, purpose in life, positive relations with others, personal growth, environmental mastery and autonomy. The survey structure was the same as that for family connections, except the ranking system ranged from zero to 10.
        When it comes to flourishing, it's about kids accepting their strengths and weaknesses and then being able to use their strengths to find their purpose in life, he said.

        Children can thrive, not just survive

        Children with the greatest level of family connection were over 49% more likely to flourish compared with those with the lowest level of family connection, according to the study.
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