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How to support children`s wellbeing


Many people would use the term `wellbeing` to apply to the happiness and mental health of adults, but the psychological and emotional welfare of young children also needs to be monitored and attended to.

Wellbeing is generally defined as the quality of someone`s life - how comfortable and happy they are. It doesn`t refer to a state of continual bliss, but rather the equanimity of someone`s mental state, as they negotiate the inevitable vicissitudes of life.

It is well known that supporting a child`s emotional health and wellbeing will not only lead to them being happier and healthier individuals, but will also have a positive effect upon their learning and cognitive development. Engendering and nurturing them in this way will support their social and physical health into adulthood.

The emerging consensus among child psychologists is that childhood wellbeing is a complex concept, one that should not only focus on the current situation of a child, but also incorporate their future prospects. The link between education and wellbeing is a current topic of study, though wealthier countries certainly score higher in such cross national comparisons as the Index of Child Wellbeing in Europe, the UNICEF report on child poverty, and the Multi-National Project for Monitoring and Measuring Children`s Wellbeing. The following strategies are likely to he helpful in supporting a child`s wellbeing.

Playing outside

Spending more time outside is good advice for anyone, but for children it`s especially important. All children possess a natural instinct to explore nature, and allowing them to play outdoors is a great way to nurture their wellbeing.

Having a picnic, setting up obstacle courses, or playing hide and seek - these are all ways you can get involved and engage the interest of your child by playing outdoors. The fresh air and sunlight will bolster their mood, and the natural surroundings can engage their creativity, inspiring them to create their own games. Perhaps they would like to play treasure hunt, they could make their own map, and bury a small item, only to reclaim it at a later time. Or maybe their would like to build their own den, and with a few materials supplied by you they can enjoy their own little domain in the outdoors.

These days many children will be content to stay indoors, as long as they have a phone or tablet to play with. The World Health Organisation, through guidelines issued in 2019, recommends no screen time for children under three, and only one hour a day for children aged between three and four. `Less is better,` is the WHO`s maxim. Playing outdoors should be encouraged, as it develops physical fitness, engenders creativity, and gives them time away from structured and routine activities.

Allow children to be creative

All children are naturally creative, and desire to express their imaginative faculties, whether it be through drawing, painting, or making models with lego. By encouraging them to use their imagination children will develop their artistic skills, along with becoming more confident in their abilities, while improving their self esteem.

Be there to listen to them

Letting your child know they can talk to you about anything that is bothering them will be a great help. If a child is anxious about something very often they will feel they cannot tell anyone about it, leading them to internalise the problem. This will most likely only exacerbate their feelings, which will of course have a negative effect upon their wellbeing.

Build up positive habits and routines

Ensuring a child has a regular routine of breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with established times of going to bed and getting up, will be very helpful. Consistent mealtimes will help calibrate their circadian cycle - their body clock - ensuring they get into good nocturnal habits, and are rejuvenated by good quality sleep each night.

Be attentive to their interests

Children have rich and complex lives, and will likely relish the chance to share what they are interested in. By taking a keen interest in the things they are curious about, they will bond with you on a more personal level, while also gaining self esteem. By playing with them you will also be able to pick up on anything that is bothering them, and be able to offer support.

2 years ago