This article responds to the theme of this special edition by drawing on the findings of our research on child well-being, where children linked a holistic understanding of well-being with an emphasis on the socially situated nature of their experiences of well-being. We briefly outline our epistemological approach and methodology, involving a multistage qualitative study with children 8–15 years, about their understandings and experiences of well-being. We discuss the liberal predispositions in well-being research and the ways in which these predispositions exclude discussion of the significance of the social for well-being. We posit an explanation for the disparity between our findings on the significance of the social for child well-being, and the way these topics are marginalised in much research on well-being. In the remainder of the paper we outline the centrality of affective solidarity for children's well-being, how generation structures adult–child relations and frames the ways in which children's experiences of well-being can be facilitated by symmetrical, or jeopardised by asymmetrical, adult–child relations. We conclude by discussing how these conceptions of well-being suggest metaphors of the social which challenge liberal conceptualisations of well-being.
- health & well-being