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What Does ‘Well-being’ in a Child Look Like?

How do we measure well-being? There are many aspects. (Image: Sharon Mollerus/flickr)
How do we measure well-being? There are many aspects. (Image: Sharon Mollerus/flickr)

How do we measure a child’s well-being? What a terrific question to be asking, as parents, or a person with children in your care.

In my opinion, there is nothing more important than a child’s well-being. With a healthy sense of self and confidence, a child is naturally in the ideal “zone” for learning.

Without well-being, a child does not have the sturdy foundation that is needed for growing, developing, and living to their full-potential.

Recognizing a positive ‘attitude’ to learning

If you are too results oriented, you risk getting caught up by what your child can do, rather than appreciating the attitude and disposition of the little learner—how they learn. Even if your child appears wonderfully ordinary, and never stands out in the school yard, a positive aptitude for learning, stemming from well-being, will be carried with them for life.

As a parent, you can help set the scene for everyone learning together as a team, and having fun in the process. Success can be judged by the process, not the outcome.

What does well-being look like? Confident children who know how to have fun (Image:Kels Photo Images/flickr)

What does well-being look like? Confident children who know how to have fun. (Image: Kels Photo Images/flickr)

This list of indicators for well-being is a starting point for discussion, inquiry, and awareness, for how to identify well-being in your children as you see it.

awareness for how to identify well-being in your children as you see it.

Well-being in children, the 8 indicators:

  1. Confidence. Your child can voice his/her needs and wants, take risks, and re-attempt a challenging activity or task.
Public speaking is a unique challenge to take on (Image:CounselmanCollection/flickr)

Public speaking is a unique challenge to take on. (Image: CounselmanCollection/flickr)

  1. Sense of self. Your child knows how they feel and what they want—they want to have their needs met.
I am....(Image:Speculum Mundi/flickr)

I am… (Image: Speculum Mundi/flickr)

  1. Assertiveness. The child explores personal boundaries and wants others to respect his or her own space. Sometimes little children push others away to claim their personal space. Older children can question everything, as they want to know the reason in order to gain trust and self-importance.
A young boy talks with a police officer, he is being assertive and asking questions (Image:MyFWmedia/flickr)

A young boy talks with a police officer; he is being assertive and asking questions. (Image: MyFWmedia/flickr)

  1. Vitality. Children are active, spontaneous participants in their life. Children are alert to possibilities of play and fun. Children can focus on an interesting task.
Children are naturally energetic and playful (Image:Woodlouse/flickr)

Children are naturally energetic and playful. (Image: Woodlouse/flickr)

  1. Enjoyment. Children take great pleasure in their chosen activity. They laugh and smile, with bright shining eyes.
Children can engage and lose themselves in an activity (Image;gezelle/flickr)

Children can engage and lose themselves in an activity. (Image: gezelle/flickr)

  1. Relaxation. Your child can move from moments of action to a calm state of rest. Their body language can become smooth and slower as they take a slower pace. They learn, through support, that energy and activity come in waves.
You may notice a beautiful and quite moment in your child's day (Image:sabo.Photography/flickr)

You may notice a beautiful and quite moment in your child’s day. (Image: sabo.Photography/flickr)

  1. Flexibility. Your child, with support, can move from scene to scene, activity to activity readily. Your child begins to negotiate, cooperate, and compromise.
Facing challenging moments, with support, can teach how we can be flexible (Image:Photos by Mavis/flickr)

Facing challenging moments, with support, can teach a child to be flexible. (Image: Photos by Mavis/flickr)

  1. Warmth and closeness. Your child seeks out cozy cuddles, and standing close to familiar adults. When facing new experiences, little ones often want to try, but on one condition: You are by their side.
Young boy facing a new situation with support from Dad (Image-DzmitryParul:flickr)

A young boy facing a new situation with support from Dad. (Image: DzmitryParul:flickr)

It’s one big journey

The items on the list show that your child is in the process of developing their identity, self-esteem, and independence. This is a work site, a work in progress, and it’s not always smooth sailing. You continue to develop these invaluable life-skills well into your adult life. And you express your well-being in unique ways.

Wellbeing is under construction, does this ever change? (Image:Veeranant Sugwangulurt/123rf)

Well-being is under construction; does this ever change? (Image: Veeranant Sugwangulurt/123rf)

Also, like any other aspect of health, your well-being goes up and down—you have your good days and your bad days, right?

However, if one or more indicators of well-being stands out as being a difficult challenge, begin by talking to your child-care provider, teacher, or pediatrician. And keep on talking. Well-being is such an important topic to discuss with the community and other families.

Tuning in

By being in-tune to your child’s indicators of well-being, you will notice when something is amiss.

Ever catch yourself saying: “What is wrong with my child today?!”, only to have them wake in the night with a fever? They were feeling off, and you were aware of a change in their temperament.

Face all difficulties together

Having positive support to face new challenges is integral for children of all ages, even if it’s just an encouraging smile. Like adults, children can do what they do best when they feel they belong, are encouraged, and are not pressured so they can go about their work (play) in their own time.

And you?

What about you? what are some indicators of well-being you recognize in yourself?

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