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Growing pains

This is what it is like to be a five-year-old in Ireland

Their parents like them, they’re adjusting well to school, but 20 per cent are overweight.

THE FIRST SET of results from a report on the lives of Irish five-year-olds has found that one in four three-year-olds in the country is overweight, and that figure only drops to one fifth by the time they reach five.

The latest report from the Growing Up In Ireland study also shows that a quarter of families with a five-year-old are struggling to make ends meet.

The findings published today focus on children’s transition to school, socio-emotional well-being, physical well-being, play and diet, and family circumstance.

The study also found that:

  • The majority of parents reported that their children had adjusted well to school, with girls more positive about school than boys.
  • One in four parents who availed of the free preschool year said they would not have been able to send their child to preschool had it not been for the scheme.
  • Overall, parents tended to report high levels of positivity and low levels of conflict with their five-year-old.
  • Economic strain in the household was associated with a greater risk of higher levels of such conflict.
  • A child’s behavioural difficulties was linked to long periods of ‘screen-time’ (television, video games or on the internet).
  • Children from less advantaged homes generally participated more in unstructured play, while those from more advantaged homes were more likely to attend a sports club or group on a regular basis.
  • Higher maternal levels of educational achievement and higher household income were associated with less screen time spent by the child.
  • There was a clear relationship between the amount of screen time and the BMI status of the 5 year olds.
  • One in four of the children at five years of age was overweight or obese, but this dropped to one in five for the same group at age five.

While welcoming the lack of conflict between children and parents, Fitzgerald said that the difficulty that families are reporting was being dealt with by the Government.

“The difficulty being experienced by many families over recent years is clearly evident; the Government has rightly prioritised the continued support of children and families through a range of initiatives.”

Read: What is it like being a child in Ireland today?

Read: Revealed: the life of a 13-year-old growing up in Ireland

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