Crucial to child development is a child’s wellbeing. The concept of wellbeing is a complex one which can be divided into several aspects (Waters, 2014) and which occurs across several domains, namely, physical, mental, emotional, social, and cognitive wellbeing (Thompson & Fauth, 2009). However, wellbeing is generally considered as ‘the quality of people’s lives’ (Rees, et al., 2009, p. 8). If a child is fit and healthy, free from harm, mentally engaged, and their physical and emotional needs are met they are likely to possess a high level of wellbeing, and therefore, more likely to be successful and fulfil their full potential (Smith & Hart, 2014). The importance of possessing a high level of wellbeing is evident in The Marmot Review (2010, p.60) which states:
The foundations for virtually every aspect of human development – physical, intellectual and emotional – are laid in early childhood. What happens during these early years has lifelong effects on many aspects of health and wellbeing – from obesity, heart disease and mental health, to educational achievement and economic status.
What follows is an in-depth discussion comparing two aspects of young children’s wellbeing, physical wellbeing and emotional wellbeing, and the impact of these aspects on a child’s cognitive and social development.
For young children, a good level of physical wellbeing is of significant importance (Thompson & Fauth, 2009). Physical wellbeing refers to physical health, diet, the level of physical growth, and knowledge of how to stay safe and clean (Waters, 2014). The health and behaviours of a child’s parents can have a major impact on a child’s physical wellbeing, in p...
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...g ‘positive relationships’, developing ‘respect for others’, allowing them ‘to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings’, in order to ‘understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities’ (Department of Education, 2014).
A child’s emotional wellbeing can also be influenced by adverse factors such as bullying, parental conflict, divorce, neglect, family breakdown, emotional abuse, loss of a family member or friend and aggressive relationships (Shucksmith et al., 2009, cited in Smith & Hart, 2014). By building resilience in young children, or the ability to recover from adversity, practitioners and parents alike are able to increase a child’s emotional wellbeing (Smith & Hart, 2014), subsequently reducing the damaging impact of adversity on their cognitive and social development (Public Health England, 2014).
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