Study of the perceptions of the Lisbon population on the importance of the first years in childhood development (0-6)

Research team: Fausto Amaro (coordenador); Mafalda Duarte; Paula do Espírito Santo


Child development is perceived by the population surveyed as being negatively influenced by situations of poverty (89%); children’s illnesses (85.3%); parents’ chronic or prolonged illnesses, (78.7%); parents’ mental health problems (86%); parents’ stress problems (81.7%); situations of conflict and violence in the family (87.7%); and exposure to screens (computer or mobile phone) for a long time (71%).

As far as poverty is concerned, it is the belief of those interviewed that it causes: learning difficulties (47%); maladjusted behaviour (42%); greater likelihood of illness (23.7%); difficulties in emotional development (26.7%); relationship problems with other children (28.3%); problems with acceptance by the school community (32.3%); and isolation (18.3%).

The relationship with parents or other carers is seen as being positive or negative depending on the type of relationship that exists.

Playing with other children (90%) and time dedicated to the children by the parents (90.3%) are considered positive for child development.

With regard to children of immigrants, the people surveyed were of the opinion that they had more developmental problems when compared to Portuguese children.

There is a perception that children’s illnesses have an impact on their health in adulthood (68.7%) and that they could be the cause of mental or psychological problems (11.7%).

Only 35.7% of respondents showed that they had correct knowledge of the age at which children’s brains develop the most.

The study also sought to gather opinions on crèches and kindergartens, with 18% of respondents saying that they considered it inappropriate for children aged 0 to 3 to attend crèches and that they should stay with their families. The same type of response was given regarding kindergarten (4.7%).

The two main functions of crèches and kindergartens were: looking after the children (79.7% in crèches and 74.3% in kindergartens); and stimulating the children (77.3% in crèches and 74.3% in kindergartens).

There is a perception that attending a good crèche or kindergarten can have a positive influence on later results at school (87%).

More parental time with children was seen as positive, with interviewees recommending three measures to give parents more time to devote to their children: better living conditions (60.7%); more flexible working hours (55%); and shorter working hours (52.3%).

Greater attention to child development was considered necessary, which would result in the following benefits for society: more responsible (35.7%) and healthier (23%) citizens; greater success and integration at school (22%).

A third of the population surveyed (33%) didn’t know what the best solution would be for children in danger who have to be taken away from their biological families; 56% thought that the best solution would be a foster family.

Both public and private health services for children in Portugal are perceived positively and considered good or excellent (26% in the case of public services and 37% in the case of private services).

Around a third of respondents (30.3%) believe that private health services are unaffordable for some families.

55% of respondents considered that it takes too long to obtaine an appointment with specialised health services

Greater attention should be paid to child development, in the opinion of 91%of those interviewed.

In order to improve the situation of children in Portugal, the three main measures recommended were: making it easier for parents to get better hours (47%); greater economic support for families (46%); better health services (25%).

Evaluating their own childhood, the interviewees considered that the most important thing for their development as a person was: family and family support (27.3%); education and values received (22%); and accompaniment, love and relationship with parents (15.7%).

The three main reasons given for a happy childhood were: good family and social environment (88.3%); playing (31.3%); time with the family (30.7%).

The results obtained in the study enabled recommendations for action to be drawn up, which are presented at the end of the report.

Presentation in EN

Full report (only available in PT)

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