Well-being focuses on developing as a person and has two main parts: psychological and physical.
Children’s relationships with their families and those around them contribute greatly to their sense of well-being. Children need to respect themselves, others and their environment and in turn they need to feel valued, respected and cared for.
Adult well-being generally describes a positive mental attitude to work, to life and to ourselves.
The well-being of the adult is central to the ability to care for and respond to children. Children learn from what they see – adults are their role models and need to be able to model control and emotional competence. From a young child’s perspective, an adult is more approachable if they are friendly, enthusiastic and happy.
There are a number of very practical things that you can do to safeguard your own personal well-being.
Create self-care Golden Rules
1. I will give myself the same care and attention that I give others.
2. I have the right to express my feelings and opinions.
3. I am not an endless resource for others. I must stock up on reserves and not get too drained.
4. I do not have to say ‘yes’ to all requests or feel guilty if I say ‘no’.
5. I cannot solve all problems, I can only do my best.
6. Time for unwinding is time well spent.
Provide an emotionally calming environment
1. Prepare a calming thought – use this when you begin to feel wound up.
2. Prepare calming activities and be able to produce these at short notice (games, music, shake yourself quiet).
3. Use a positive praise approach (praise good behaviour).
The promotion of a healthy attitude towards nutrition and physical activity is essential right from birth.
Physical well-being encompasses a variety of factors from healthy eating and physical activities to ensuring children receive appropriate immunisation. A child’s active lifestyle is reliant on having a healthy body, a healthy mind and a nutritious diet.
Social skills and the development of gross and fine motor skills are all improved by physical activities.
Adults can have an impact on children’s ability to live a happy and productive life.
Promote healthy eating
Support children to understand the relationship between eating a healthy diet and having a healthy body.
Encourage children to experiment with food by providing opportunities for them to cook, taste and feel different types of food. Even very young children can help by washing fruit and mixing ingredients.
Encourage children to choose their own food while out shopping. Fresh fruit and vegetables are more appealing when children choose them themselves.
Avoid banning certain foods. If adults make a big deal about sweet, sugary foods and drinks they will become more appealing to children. A little in moderation is acceptable provided they are balanced with nutritious snacks at other times.
Provide children with space to explore
Children need time and space to physically explore their surrounding environment, especially areas where they can be physically active. It is important that children’s movements are not restricted for prolonged periods of time, for example, buggies and highchairs should be used only when necessary.
By providing safe, open areas, children are enabled to develop movement skills, build on their natural curiosity, use their imagination, initiate new activities and enhance their large muscle development.
Play outdoors! By playing outdoors a child can enhance their sense of awe and wonder of the world around them and discover their place in it.
Encourage the development of fine and gross motor skills
Use home-made treasure baskets from interesting and natural sensory objects for babies to explore with their hands and mouth.
Encourage the use of building blocks, Lego, stacking rings, stickle bricks, jigsaws, peg boards, sorting shapes and fitting lids onto boxes.
Encourage children to pour their own drinks and make simple sandwiches.
Provide opportunities for cutting, sticking, drawing and painting.
Initiate ball games, encourage children to use climbing frames and skipping ropes to enhance their coordination skills. These types of activities can be particularly beneficial to children with coordination difficulties.
Provide opportunities for children to develop their sense of balance
Organise activities such as Musical statutes, ‘Row, row, row your boat’ and ‘Ring a Ring a Rosy’.
Arrange stepping stones, both indoors and outdoors, to enable children to make giant steps or jump between them. This lets children use their imagination as well as develop their sense of balance.
Use outdoor games which encourage children to spin, twist, roll and skip, provide opportunities for children to fall over on purpose and grassy slopes that they can roll down.
Provide children with obstacles, like planks of wood, to practice balancing, and objects like tunnels or barrels to crawl through.
Encourage children to come down a slide on their tummy (with adult supervision). This increases children’s control over their bodies.
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is the value we place on ourselves. It is a personal perception of ourselves and how this makes us feel. It is the knowledge that we are lovable, capable and unique.
Good self-esteem in children means they have established a sense of identity and self-worth. Children feel accepted and valued by adults and peers around them and feel confident in themselves.
Children’s self-esteem can be strengthened and enhanced, both in the home and in the childcare setting, in a number of ways.
Demonstrate love and acceptance
- Show children that they are loved and accepted simply because of who they are. When children feel respected and secure within a family or childcare setting, they develop a healthy sense of self-worth.
- Spend time together – play, talk and relax together.
- Show love and acceptance through daily expressions of affection, care and concern, for example, provide books, dolls, puzzles and posters that reflect children and adults expressing love and affection.
Promote a sense of security and safety
- Provide a safe environment that has access to a range of activities that will encourage children to face challenges and take risks, to develop their own capabilities.
- Support children’s curiosity about the world around them, by answering children’s questions sincerely.
- Set clear boundaries and consistently use positive behaviour strategies.
- Be realistic in expectations, for example, through your regular observation and assessment practice, plan activities and opportunities that are age appropriate and support children developmentally to enable them to achieve, regardless of their abilities.
A stable environment provides children with a sense of security. When children know that an adult can be relied upon to be consistent and to give help when necessary it helps children to think, ‘I can trust you’, and ‘I can trust myself’.
- Ensure that your verbal and non-verbal messages agree.
- Be honest about your feelings to yourself and to children.
- Be consistent so children know what to expect, for example, provide a Key Worker System to help children settle into a new environment and provide continuity of care between the home and a childcare setting.
Children will develop respect for themselves and for others if they learn that what they think, feel and do is important. If children experience criticism, they will feel unworthy. Criticism or punishment which is too harsh will prevent children from developing self-confidence.
Accepting children’s right to have feelings helps them learn to respect the feelings of others. If you show children healthy ways to express their feelings, they will develop positive relationships.
All children are special. It is important for adults to help children discover their own special talents and qualities. Once they identify what makes them special, they need to learn to value their own strengths.
- Help children to understand that feeling special does not mean feeling better than others; rather, it is a positive understanding of their own uniqueness.
- Provide opportunities for children to try things their own way.
- Help children understand that trying their best is more important than winning.
- Value children’s uniqueness, for example, encourage children to draw pictures about themselves and their family to develop a book about themselves. This will help children to understand that they are unique and special.
It is extremely important to give children support and approval. Children who have faith and confidence in themselves and their abilities will be more likely to lead happy and productive adult lives. Provide opportunities so that children learn from their mistakes, work towards a goal, and have pride in their successes.
- Empower children to make decisions and to set goals.
- Express faith and confidence in children and their capabilities.
- Help children recognise that there are things they must accept and things they can choose to change.
- Encourage children to face challenges and take risks, for example, provide opportunities and activities that will challenge children during their play.