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Promoting a sense of wellbeing in infants, toddlers and young children

Family enjoying the bushSometimes we forget that babies and young children can experience a sense of pressure and stress that can impact on their general well-being. First and foremost babies need their basic needs met ie: thirst, hunger, comfort and communication with family members. Despite all our best efforts sometimes babies can become unsettled and distressed. Soothing talk and a gentle touch will often help soothe a baby. Infant massage also helps reduce infant stress.

If possible try to avoid over stimulation. For example, some children become stressed if there is too much noise or too much general activity around them. Too many changes in a child's life can also impact on their ability to manage the challenges of growing up. If excessive stimulation or change is unavoidable, offer your infant or child support and loving reassurance.

Following are further suggestions for promoting a young child's well-being:

  • Have frequent conversations with young children
  • Diffuse difficult situations by distracting children
  • Avoid power struggles over unimportant matters
  • Allow children to make decisions, e.g. "Do you want Vegemite or peanut butter?" and "Here are three outfits, you can choose the one you want to wear today"
  • Prepare children for changes, e.g. "After lunch, we are going to Nanna's."
  • Give children time to respond to requests (count to five while you patiently wait for them to respond)
  • Allow children to have a space of their own
  • Appreciate how much more difficult it is for a child to cope when they are sick or tired
  • Acknowledge children's fears and offer support
  • Set limits for children. This can give them a sense of security
  • Consider establishing routines at home. Routines can help children understand what is about to happen
  • Provide a safe, warm and secure home
  • Allow children time to express their feelings and ideas
  • Promote children's self-esteem, i.e. let them know that they are loveable and capable
  • Provide opportunities for success
  • Value children as important members of the family
  • Appreciate children's appropriate behaviour
  •  Provide opportunities for children to have fun

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Christine Muir
Educational Psychologist
Reproduced with permission
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10-Nov-2015 1:05 PM (AEST)