We all have a role to play in shaping the next generation
The third report in a series from The Centre’s 2023 Public Perceptions Survey, highlights that two in three people (67%) agree that the love and support they received from wider family and friends in early childhood has had a big impact in shaping who they are today and the majority (55%) said the same about wider society more generally.
Christian Guy, Director of The Royal Foundation for Early Childhood said: “We all have a role to play in shaping the next generation, whether or not we are parents ourselves.
“During early childhood, our brains develop faster than at any other life stage and our experiences, relationships and surroundings at that very young age lay the foundations that shape the rest of our lives.
“The care, kindness, love and attention paid by those around families can make a real and tangible difference and I hope the heart-warming findings of this report give everyone pause for thought about the hugely positive role they can and do play in lives of the very youngest members of our society – at all times, but even more so at times of challenge.”
Respondents referred to a range of ways in which people other than their parents had helped shape their lives, including the kindness of family friends looking after them as children when their parents were sick, the care and love received from extended family and early years teachers having a positive impact on their learning as a child.
“School teachers, football coaches, Grandparents. They taught me and showed calm and patience. This has helped me with my own kids.” South East, Male, 18-34.
“Godmother, mum's friends and neighbours - we experienced a lot of loss in the family when I was young, and these people were always around to take care of me while my mum was dealing with these things” North West, Female, 18-34.
“Nursery teachers - they believed in me despite my learning difficulties and supported me” South East, Female, 18-34.
“My aunties and uncles and cousins, and my next-door neighbour growing up. They were reliable and loving.” Wales, Female, 35-54.
“The whole local community looked out for the kids in the area. They took time to speak to us for good and bad things. We were all treated with respect from an early age which in turn made us respect other people and their views.” Midlands, Male, 35-54.
Around one in five people also say they have made a positive difference for children in their wider community in the past six months, including in the workplace (25%), the community (23%) and at a national level (20%). People who report acting commonly describe supporting parents with childcare, being part of the early years workforce or supporting charities associated with young people.