Home and family

Research based on Child of the New Century (CNC) has explored how our families and life at home can shape us in different ways as we grow up.

Daily routines

A recent study revealed that children who have a regular bedtime tend to do better at school in areas such as reading and maths than those who don’t.  The same researchers found that children who go to bed at the same time every night benefit from being in a better mood and generally get on better with others.

Another study has suggested that watching TV for more than three hours a day could be linked to anti-social behaviour such as stealing or fighting, although the authors emphasise that lots of other factors influence children’s behaviour too.

Researchers have also looked at daily activities such as walking to school. One study found that children who walked or cycled to school were less likely to be overweight, but of course doing other types of exercise is beneficial too.

Family life

In the first CNC survey mothers were asked about the ways they interacted with their baby, such as how often they talked to them or cuddled them and whether their babies had regular sleeping and eating times. In the surveys at ages 3 and 5, mums were also asked how often they helped their child with reading and writing, as well as with activities such as drawing and painting.

Researchers have found that children who have had interactions like these in their preschool years tend to display better behaviour and moods, and higher ability in reading and maths.  Another study revealed that children whose parents play with them are likely to do more physical activity, including walking to school and taking part in sports.

Studies based on CNC have also found that children’s exercise patterns and eating habits could be related to whether or not their mother works. Findings have shown that some children with working mothers were less likely to eat fruit and vegetables, or to walk or cycle to school.  However, research has suggested that whether or not a mother is employed does not affect their child’s behaviour or how well they do in reading or maths.  Many mums in CNC opted to return to work after having a baby.

Family background

CNC has collected a wide range of information about different aspects of your family background, including your parents’ education and the type of jobs they do, as well as how old your mother was when you were born and how many people live in your household.

Studies have found that our family backgrounds can influence outcomes in many areas of our lives, from our health and weight to how we interact with other people  and our chances of doing well in school.


Time for bed: associations with cognitive performance in 7-year-old children: a longitudinal population-based study (2013) by Yvonne Kelly, John Kelly and Amanda Sacker

Changes in Bedtime Schedules and Behavioral Difficulties in 7 Year Old Children (2013) by Yvonne Kelly, John Kelly and Amanda Sacker

Do television and electronic games predict children’s psychosocial adjustment? Longitudinal research using the UK Millennium Cohort Study (2013) by Alison Parkes, Helen Sweeting, Daniel Wight and Marion Henderson

Millennium Cohort Study Briefing 14: Childhood overweight and obesity. Based on chapter 13 ofChildren of the 21st century (Volume 2): The first five years (2010) by Lucy Jane Griffiths, Summer Sherburne Hawkins, Tim Cole, Catherine Law and Carol Dezateux

Children’s development and parental input: evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (2013) by Monica Hernandez Alava and Gurleen Popli

Parental factors associated with walking to school and participation in organised activities at age 5: Analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study (2011) by Sinead Brophy, Roxanne Cooksey, Ronan Lyons, Non Thomas, Sarah Rodgers and Michael Gravenor

Examining the relationship between maternal employment and health behaviours in 5-year-old British children (2009) by Summer Sherburne Hawkins, Tim Cole, Catherine Law and the Millennium Cohort Study Child Health Group

Working parents: Evidence from longitudinal studies (2013), presentation by Heather Joshi to the Academy of Social Science

The role of poverty in explaining health variations in 7-year-old children from different family structures: findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (2013) by Anna Pearce, Hannah Lewis and Catherine Law

What role for the home learning environment and parenting in reducing the socioeconomic gradient in child development? Findings from the Millennium Cohort Study (2011) by Yvonne Kelly, Amanda Sacker, Emilia Del Bono, Marco Francesconi and Michael Marmot

Social Class and Inequalities in Early Cognitive Scores (2013) by Alice Sullivan, Sosthenes Ketende and Heather Joshi