Child Care and Health

| | |Explain what constitutes the physical and psychological needs of a three year old child. Explain how you would ensure that these physical and psychological | |needs could be met in your country. | | | |Identify the physical and psychological needs of a three year old and link these to the UNCRC and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (15) | |Define the specific physical needs of a three year old child – including exercise and rest, diet, health and safety. (10) | |

Give a full explanation of how these physical needs can be met by a carer in your country. (20) | |Define the psychological needs of a three year old child – focus on emotional and social needs. (10) | |Give a full explanation of how these needs can be met by a carer in your country. (10) |

This essay will look at the physical and psychological needs of a three year old child. I will discuss the underlying principles and how these principles effects the way child care professionals in the UK work with children to promote their development in these areas. I will focus on how the environment has a major influence on a child’s physical, social and emotional development and how a parent/carer’s sensitive intervention can have a positive effect on the child’s well-being and self-esteem.

The physical and psychological needs of a three year old include having basic needs met such needs should include food, warmth, shelter and emotional security so the child can reach his/her full potential. The child also needs to feel a sense of belonging, needs to develop a positive self-esteem and self-image, and feel they are accepted as an individual with individual needs. In 1989 world leaders came to a decision that children needed their own convention, this was because they felt children needed ‘special care’ and ‘protection’ that adults did not (, 2011l).

This created The United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (1989 and 1990). This legislation had a major influence on ensuring children had the rights to many important factors of their needs and development. The Articles that play the most importance to a child’s physical and psychological needs are those that focus on the right to protection (Articles 4 and 19), the right to survival (Articles 6 and 24) and lastly the right to participation (Article 15) (, 1996 – 2007).

Maslow talks about these needs as being ‘Vitamins’ stating that ‘we could never be healthy without them’. A child who does not have these needs met in Maslow’s eyes would be ‘aggressive or attention seeking’, this child could only be ‘cured’ by reinforcing there need for belonging and self-esteem .

He believed that a child’s main need was the psychological need leading them to the need of feeling safe, the need to belong and be loved, the need to feel or have self-esteem and then finally bringing them to ‘Self Actualise’ their needs (, 2011l).

A three year old child has many physical needs some which s/he will be able to do independently and some s/he will need support from an adult with. These include understanding the effect of exercise; rest and diet on his/her own body and also how to keep healthy and safe.

Throughout the UK schools and day care settings follow the EYFS, ‘‘The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a comprehensive statutory framework that sets the standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five in England’’ ( to set the standard of care they need to provide and also to give guidelines on the needs of children from birth to five years. ‘

’The EYFS requires that the physical development of babies and young children should be encouraged through the provision of opportunities within an enabling environment to enable them to be active and improve skills of coordination, control, manipulation and movement. They should also be use all of their senses in developing an understanding of the importance of physical activity and developing healthy eating habits.’’ (EYFS in Macleod-Brundenell & Kay, 2008, p83).

In day care it is important that we make an environment that is suitable to meet the child’s physical needs. ‘’Therefore the role of the environment is to prepare the child physically with the maximum safety, the maximum opportunities for movement and exploration, together with the maximum encouragement by an adult.’’(MCI Contemporary Issues – Module 4, p5).

At three a child will already have a large repertoire of physical skills, a carer should encourage children to be creative and imaginative with their learning. This will help the child to become more confident, gain control and coordination. You may find a child repeating activities this is another way children gain skill and new challenges.

Physical skills include gross motor skills such as running, jumping, skipping, balancing, climbing, throwing, catching, riding, pushing, pulling and fine motor skills like threading, manipulating malleable materials, drawing, painting, mark making, building. For a child to meet these needs they need a suitable environment, an area where children can carry out gross motor activities and practise skills without too many restrictions or hazards. Also indoors things should be accessible to the child, child sized furniture and equipment is essential.

An adult’s role is key to providing a safe environment. Children at this age will have accidents because the child is becoming more confident in their physical ability, they begin to push themselves and take more risks. As an adult in the setting we must be aware of this, we must look at the environment and make it safe.

We must be there to encourage children’s independence, by explaining risks and dangers, showing him/her how to handle equipment correctly and giving the child rules, ‘freedom with limits’ (MCI Child Care and Health -Module 5). To help a child’s well-being the setting should offer a wide range of experiences;these experiences should be suitable to the child’s abilities and specific needs.

It is important for the child to understand the need for healthy practise and safety, the adult will need to support the children with this talking about suitable clothes to wear in different weather conditions, practising good personal hygiene; washings hands regularly, help with toilet training.

A good example of this in a nursery I visited the practitioners encourage the children to learn healthy practise’s by inviting them to brush their teeth after meals times’, explaining how and why we brush our teeth, talking about what is good and bad for our teeth. This had a very positive affect on both the children’s learning and confidence.

Rest is very important to enhancing a child’s development. Not all children need the same kind of rest in some cases the child will still need to sleep during the day and for others rest could be sitting in a quiet area reading a book or listening to some relaxing children. It is important that carers understand all children are different in this and provision should be made for both sleep and rest.

One nursery I worked had a separate area where children could sleep without disruption, the lights were dimed, there were fold out mattresses and quiet music playing in the background, thus creating a relaxing environment for rest or sleep.

It is important that children have and understand a healthy diet. Children should be provided with healthy meals that contain a variety of nutrients. Children and carers should work together setting up and clearing away and sit together to eat. The adult should allow children to be involved with cooking giving an opportunity to explain about healthy eating and food hygiene.

Psychological needs are mainly social and emotional. A Child has many psychological needs, Bowlby ‘’argued the need for attachment was an instinctive biological need and that mother-love in infancy and childhood was as important for mental health as vitamins and protein for physical health’’(Bowlby in Macleod-Brudenell & kay, 2008, p99.

While some consider this to be correct that’s a child needs his/her mothers love to grow into a mentally healthy child/adult, it has also been shown in other research that a child does not need to be attached to his/her mother s/he could also be attached to a ‘primary caregiver’ and still be mentally healthy.

Other needs include feel secure in their environment, this will help the child to have a sense of trust in the world around them. Children need to have positive self-esteem and self-image, these are central to our psychological well-being. A child needs to feel positive about themselves and the way others view them in order to strive to achieve greater things and feel accepted. This need continues with us throughout life.

Emotional and social development are closely linked, for these needs to be met children need encouragement and support. The day care setting and carers must be consistent and predictable. For a child to develop emotionally they must feel secure, important, liked, accepted and special to name just a few. If a child doesn’t feel positively about themselves they will find it difficult to deal with situations and interactions. Socially we must help the children to feel independent, look at things from their point of view as well as others points of views.

Children should be encouraged to learn by joining in a variety of activities this will help them acquire new skills, positive self-image and self-confidence. It will also help them to learn to cooperate with others. As practitioner’s we should be a positive role model to the children, they will learn from how they see us behave. Hopefully leading them to learn to respect one another and no what is right and wrong.

In the day care setting it is very important that we treat all children equally, this will enforce a sense of belonging and well-being. All children must be valued and accepted as they are; they all have the potential develop in one way or another. Being positive and encouraging the children to do things they are competent will help this, also setting challenges and supporting them through these challenges will help the child in these areas.

It is very important in a day care setting to have policies and procedures in place to help children with the transition from the home environment to the day care setting. From day one carers should talk to the parents and find out as much as possible about their child.

Maybe giving the parents a routine form would help this. It is important as carers to know the child’s routine at home, what they enjoy doing, what comforts them, any illness or allergies and lots lots more. The more we know about the child the easier it will be to make them feel at home in our setting. If possible a home visit could be the best way to get this information; it would also mean that the child had met you in their own environment, where s/he may feel more comfortable.

he next step would be for children to come and visit the nursery, normally this would start with a short visit so the child can get used to the new surroundings, as well as their new carers and peers. These visits should gradually get longer until the child is staying for full sessions or days. A key person system could also help with the settling in of a child, the child’s key person will be responsible for the child’s physical, emotional and social needs. It should help the child feel secure thus aiding healthy development in the setting. The key person will also be an important link with the parents.

In addition to the above policies and procedures it is important that a new child in your setting feels comfortable and settled, we must include children in all aspects of the routine no matter what their background. Each child should be treated equally. We should encourage the children to play and learn together, allow the child to bring a toy or a comforter if it will help.

Spend time with the child show him/her that you care and want to learn about them, also use the information you collected from the parents to find a common ground something to talk about with the child. These should all help the child feel more comfortable and settled in their new environment.

The physical and psychological needs of a child are very important to all areas of their development, all of which intertwine and link with each other at some point. It is important as a carer that we understand these needs, encourage and support them ensuring the children feel safe and secure in their environment.


Children’s Workforce Development Council (MSN)(2011) Early Years Foundation Stages[online] available from (date accessed 15/12/2011).

Macleod-Brundenell, I & Kay, J. (2008, 2nd Ed.) Advanced Early Years for Foundation Degrees & Level 4/5, Harlow : Heinemann Chapters 4, 5 and 9

Montessori Centre International (undated a) Childcare and Health – Module 5, London; MCI.

Montessori Centre International (undated b) Child Development – Module 2, London; MCI Chapters 1 and 3 (pages 39 – 42).

Montessori Centre International (undated c) Contemporary Issues – Module 4, London; MCI Chapters 1,3,4 and 5.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UHCHR)(1996-2007) Convention on the Rights of the Child[online] available from (date accessed 19/12/2011).

Teachers Toolbox(MSN)(2011) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs[online] available from ( (date accessed 10/12/2011).

Unicef (2011) Convention on the Rights of the Child[online]available from (date accessed 10/12/2011).