Parents often misjudge the happiness levels of their kids as they make the estimation based on their personal feelings and not of their children's, says a study from Plymouth University in Britain.
Parents of 10 and 11-year-olds consistently overestimated their child's happiness, while those with 15 and 16-year-olds were inclined to underestimate, the findings showed. The study attributed the discrepancies to an "egocentric bias" through which parents rely too heavily on their own feelings in assessing the happiness of the family unit as a whole.
"Being unable to read children's happiness appropriately may increase misunderstanding between parents and children or adolescents, which has been shown to have negative consequences for parent-child relationships," said one of the researchers Belen Lopez-Perez from the Plymouth University in Britain. "Furthermore, parents might not be able to provide the appropriate emotional support or attend to their children's needs accurately," Lopez-Perez said.
For the study, the researchers questioned a total of 357 children and adolescents from two different schools in Spain, along with their parents. Their happiness was assessed using a range of self-reporting measures and ratings.
The results showed that parents were inclined to score a child or adolescents' happiness closely in line with their own emotional feelings, whereas in fact there were notable differences in the child's own reports. The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology