For parents and educators, children’s well-being is paramount. Whether raising or educating a child, it’s important to do everything possible to ensure that the child is well-equipped to transition into adulthood. Ensuring children’s well-being means keeping the child safe, promoting physical wellness, and minimizing exposure to illness or disease.
The concept of children’s well-being also encompasses emotional, economic, and environmental factors. According to the Child & Family Policy Center, well-being includes all factors that “contribute to healthy development through consistent, nurturing home and community environments.”
Children’s well-being matters not just because we want all kids to live happy lives but also because childhood well-being is closely linked to mental and physical health in adulthood. “We know from our research that children with low well-being are more likely to have problems in their lives including with their physical and mental health,” states The Children’s Society. “It’s important for society as a whole that children have the right support around them — at home, at school, in their neighborhood, and beyond to make sure that every child has the opportunity to thrive.”
Promoting children’s well-being is especially important during a public health crisis. Check out these resources for parents and teachers to help children cope.
The Elements of Children’s Well-Being
A child’s well-being is best understood in holistic terms. Several components contribute to well-adjusted adulthood, including economic, education, health, and community factors.
Economic strain, such as a parent’s unemployment or lack of affordable housing, can distract children from doing their best work in school. It has also been linked with negative cognitive development. Additionally, economic burdens often create difficulties in accessing nutritional food, adequate health care, and academic support services.
- KVC Health Systems, “4 State-Specific Factors That Affect a Child’s Wellbeing.” Learn about some of the ways in which economic duress can negatively impact childhood development.
- First Cry, “Factors That Affect Growth and Development in Children.” Discover how socioeconomic factors can impact a child’s development.
Education plays a huge role in shaping children’s well-being. Participation in extracurricular activities has been linked with positive development. In addition, basic literacy is vital for ensuring that children grow up to be well-adjusted members of society.
- Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “Early Childhood Development and Education.” Take a closer look at the role education plays in shaping children’s lives.
- Scholastic, “Science Says: A Book-Filled Home Has Benefits Beyond Reading for Kids.” Consider the role literacy plays in helping children grow and develop.
Physical health is another key component in a child’s overall well-being. Sound nutrition, both at home and at school, is a major concern. Exercise can help promote a healthy lifestyle and minimize the risk of obesity. Access to health care ensures that a child is developing properly and that any illnesses or chronic conditions are addressed through the right medical treatment.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Prevalence of Childhood Obesity in the United States.” Learn more about the risk that obesity plays, particularly in childhood.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Childhood Nutrition Facts.” Get accurate information about how children should be eating.
Something else that can impact a child’s well-being is neighborhood. A community fraught with violence or poverty is unhealthy. However, communities that offer child support services empower families to weather obstacles.
- Child Trends, “5 Ways Neighborhoods of Concentrated Disadvantage Harm Children.” Consider the ways in which immediate surroundings can impact how a child grows up.
- Children’s Bureau, “Poverty and its Effects on Children.” Explore some of the research about how impoverished neighborhoods impact a child’s development.
How a Public Health Crisis Impacts Children’s Well-Being
A pandemic or an infectious disease outbreak can adversely impact the way kids grow up. Some key considerations include the following:
- During a public health crisis, socioeconomic stability is threatened. This became very clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, when unemployment levels soared amid business closures.
- Public health crises can exacerbate ongoing children’s health conditions. Again, the COVID-19 pandemic provides clear examples. Parents who lost their jobs may have a harder time providing their kids with access to sound nutrition and health care, causing preexisting issues like obesity to worsen.
- Living through an extended period of heightened anxiety or uncertainty can create a sense of childhood trauma, impeding healthy mental and emotional development.
When it comes to protecting a child’s well-being, both during and after a crisis like COVID-19, parents are on the front line of defense. It falls to them to monitor their children’s nutrition, anxiety, physical activity, and general well-being. Educators also play a considerable role, identifying any performance issues that kids are having, telling parents about resources in the community, and helping to provide a sense of normalcy through remote learning.
Children’s Well-Being and Public Health Crises
Additional insights into public health and children’s well-being include the following:
- Minnesota Department of Health, “Tips and Resources for Children and Parents During COVID-19.” Get some practical guidelines for how to help children cope with a season of uncertainty.
- Education Week, “Serving Special Needs Students During COVID-19: A Rural Educator’s Story.” See an example of how teachers can rise to the occasion even during times of crisis.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) California, “Family Guide: Helping Parents and Children During the COVID-19 Crisis.” Find out how parents can guide their children through public health crises.
Resources for Protecting a Child’s Physical Health
How can parents and teachers protect their children’s well-being during a public health crisis? The top priority is ensuring that children are safe and that their physical health is safeguarded. A number of resources, including tools, programs, and strategies, can help.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Keep Children Healthy During the COVID-19 Outbreak.” This article shares some good general tips on promoting handwashing and other forms of hygiene.
- American Psychological Association, “Parenting Children with Chronic Disease During COVID-19.” Get tips on developing a health care strategy for any child who has a chronic condition.
- National Institute for Children’s Health Quality, “Supporting Children’s Health During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Learn how to address some of the most common obstacles to children’s physical health and well-being.
- Cincinnati Children’s, “Coronavirus Resources for Families.” Find a number of great resources for helping kids maintain hygiene, nutrition, and physical activity during a public health crisis.
Resources for Protecting a Child’s Mental and Emotional Health
In addition to preserving a child’s physical health, parents and teachers can help kids maintain optimal mental and emotional well-being. The following resources can help:
- Child360, Family Resource: “Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Get a full list of resources to help ensure that children are properly coping during a tumultuous time.
- Montreal Children’s Hospital, “How to Support Kids’ Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Learn how to model self-care for children and teach them to manage their feelings of anxiety.
- Child Trends, “Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Explore some additional strategies for helping children work through their emotions in a positive, healthy way.
- Cincinnati Children’s, “Taking Care of Your Family’s Mental Health During COVID-19.” Find out how to make mental well-being a family affair.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, “The Issue: Mental Health in Schools.” Find out more about the importance of mental health in the classroom.
Resources for Maintaining a Child’s Educational Path
A public health crisis disrupts all areas of life, including a child’s education. To make sure children aren’t academically shortchanged during a public health emergency, it’s important for parents and teachers alike to have educational contingency plans in place. A few resources to consider:
- UNESCO, “Resources for Parents and Teachers: Motivating & Supporting Children During Remote Learning.” During the coronavirus pandemic, remote learning became a major source of continuity. Learn how to motivate children and keep them on track as they learn over remote platforms.
- Ladders, “9 Tips for Parents Navigating Online Learning with Their Children Due to Coronavirus.” Discover how parents can enhance the online learning experience for their kids.
- Forbes, “7 Tips to Help Make Remote Learning More Effective.” Investigate some of the best options for a fruitful online learning experience.
Promote Children’s Well-Being, Even in a Crisis
Parents and teachers alike want to do right by the children entrusted to them, even during difficult times. This means taking a holistic view of children’s well-being and ensuring that they stay on the path to a healthy adulthood.