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Physical and psychological needs of a three year old child.

The development a child undergoes in the first three years of life is amazingly rich and rapid, and can manifests itself at its best
when his/her needs are met. This essay will consider the physical and psychological needs starting from the rights of the child as
outlined by the United Nations. Using Maslows hierarchy of needs as a reference, it will explore more in detail how the satisfaction
of these needs can help the child to realize his/her own full potential, and what is the contribution a day care setting can give in this
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (Unicef, 2008) details the human rights that apply to every child in the world. The four
fundamental principles assert that these rights must be guaranteed to all children regardless of race, gender, language, religion,
opinion; the priority must always be the interest of the child; every country must fully commit to safeguard the life, the survival and
the healthy development of the children and every child has the right to be listened in all circumstances which affect him/her.
Only through the application of these rights the childrens fundamental needs can be fulfilled and they will have the possibility to
reach their full potential. As stated by Maslow (in Teachers Toolbox, 2011), humans are driven by needs which are of physical,
emotional and psychological nature. The physiological needs are the first to be satisfied. Only once they are met a higher level
need will emerge (safety, belongingness and love, esteem and self-fulfilment needs). The right of life and survival recognized by
the UNICEF corresponds to the basic needs. These include access to food, water, air and rest. Because young children depend on
others to respond to their needs, the governments have to play an active part in guaranteeing that these rights are respected. Only
a child who can grow up without worrying about food, a safe place to live in and is surrounded by a loving environment, can work
towards the realization of his/her potential.
In South Africa the Department of Social Development issued the Guidelines for Early Childhood Development Services to help
addressing the ECD matters. Early Childhood Development (ECD) purpose is to protect the childs rights to develop to his or her
full cognitive, emotional, social and physical potential .
The minimum standards set by the DSD cover premises and equipment, health safety and nutrition, management, active learning,
practitioners and working with families. The first two points aim at securing that the physical needs are met. The environment must
be well ventilated and free from dangerous fumes and smoke. The premises must be weatherproof, to prevent heat loss or
excessive temperature, and the children must be dressed properly. It is the adults responsibility to make sure the environment is
safe from dangers and to be vigilant, helping the children to be aware of hazardous situations without creating anxiety. This is
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especially true for children with disabilities, whose development and health should be promoted within the limits imposed by the
condition (Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008). The DSD specifies the minimum play area per child to allow children to move freely
and get appropriate exercise. This is essential for the physical maturation and promotes a sense of wellbeing, which puts the basis
for an adult healthy lifestyle (MCI, undated a). Encouraging children to run, climb, jump, hope??, balance etc. they will improve
their gross motor skills and will learn to control and coordinate their body, becoming more confident. The fine motor skills, namely
the control of small muscles, are developed when the child holds small objects, uses pencils to scribble and turns the pages of a
book (MCI, undated b). Montessori believed in providing a prepared environment (MCI, undated c), which means child-friendly,
with objects and tools adapted to the childs size so he/she can express him/herself freely and spontaneously. Activities that a
nursery can propose are playing with sand and water, doing obstacle races outdoors or indoors, climbing jungle gyms so to
develop the gross motor skills. Dancing together, riding tricycles and doing simple yoga lessons will also help with coordination and
posture. Arts and crafts like painting, drawing, using play-dough and pasta to thread will extend their fine motor skills. Montessori
stressed the importance of richness and variety of objects (MCI, undated c): the use of hands and manipulation lays the
foundation for a thriving intellectual development. I personally like, as an activity that involves physical exercise and intellectual
engagement, easy scavenger hunts outdoors or even indoors, to stimulate the child to explore the surroundings and create
excitement. After all these activity, children must be given the opportunity to rest, either lying down or sitting quietly.

Practitioners also need to guide young children on how to keep their bodies safe and healthy. This includes activities on eating
wisely, and looking after teeth and hair. In regards to nutrition, the DSD suggest to seek guidance from the Department of Health or
other medical institutions, to make sure the needs of different ages and individuals (including special needs) are considered. Being
it a social moment, the practitioners should show a positive attitude during meals time, encouraging children to try different foods
without forcing them and creating a pleasant atmosphere. The premises should also provide for safe and clean toilet facilities and
for low sinks so that children are encouraged to look after themselves.
The health safety is another important responsibility of the day care setting. As stated by the DSD, each child should have a
Medical History Form, containing information about his/her general health state, a copy of the Road to Health card (a medical
record summary of a child's health) and contact details. There should be policies and procedures in place that cover the way health
care is handled. Staff needs to be trained in first aid, so to intervene promptly. The carer plays an important role in managing an
illness (MCI, undated a): he/she can contributing to an early diagnosis by observing the first signs and report a condition; he/she
can notice the side effects of medication and report the progress; he/she can help the child to develop a positive attitude, offering a
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caring relationship and helping the child to cope better and the other children to understand the situation; he/she deals with the
family informing it immediately, helping dealing with anxieties and getting its cooperation. Staff also need to care for children with
chronic or long term conditions, making sure to promote the development and health within the existing limitations. The carers must
make sure at any time that no child is treated unfairly because of illnesses or special conditions, especially children with HIV and
AIDS, because of the misunderstandings about this disease.
According to Maslow (in Teachers Toolbox, 2011), once the physical requirements are met, the child will feel the need to be loved
and to belong to a social group, which can be realized through the formation of attachments with the primary care-givers, at first,
and with peers and others outside the family, later. Bowlby and Answorth (in Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008) proved that a secure
attachment will result in a better persistence, good problem solving, and is important for the future mental health. Ainsworth (in
Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008, p102) suggested for the adult to be a secure base from which the child can explore the world
.She suggests a maternal sensitivity, made of attentiveness, stimulation and reciprocity of interactions. A day care practitioner
needs also to be sensitive to the stress a young child can go through during the transition from home to the nursery. The child
might develop separation anxiety, which is normal and is a sign that an attachment is formed. To make it easier for child and family
a practitioner should get to know the child and his/her needs and routines, either making contact with him/her before starting
school, or slowly increasing the amount of time spent in the new environment. The child must be reassured about the return of the
parents, and this can be easier with a morning goodbye routine (Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008). The goal is to provide emotional
security to the child. For a day care center it is advisable to use a key person system (Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008). which
means that an individual is assigned to look after the physical and emotional needs of individual children, in order to develop with
them a strong and positive relationship and to keep record of the progress. When provided with attentive care, a calm environment,
a good example in coping with emotions and acceptance, the child will feel loved and secure, and will be more prone to engage in
relationships (MCI, undated b). Early friendships are very important for the creation of the sense of belonging and acceptance.
Adults should encourage them by providing opportunities to play with others, playing with children in a non controlling and positive
way, talking to them about relationships and communication and encouraging to find positive strategies to resolve conflict
(Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008). The adults must always remember to be role models: the way they react to a child influence the
way that others will react to him/her, and in general children will be positively affected by an adult who shows an empathic attitude.
A useful tool is the circle time (popularized by Jenny Mosley, in Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008). Unlike a lesson this way helps
to keep all children involved in an active way and brings the group together. The teacher will choose a topic, for example getting to
know each other or introducing the day theme, by engaging in activities (e.g. physical warm-ups or singing songs). The circle time
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can help children to develop social skills, by guide them through the everyday difficulties and encouraging them to consider
someone elses perspective. Every child must have a chance to express his/her opinion or feelings, without judgmental attitudes.
Through these early relationships children also learn that they are both similar to and different from others and become aware of
their identity. Every child belongs to a group (family, school, town, culture) and must feel free to express his/her own belonging to it,
manifesting language, religion and cultural differences, so that he/she can feel accepted and recognized. A day care setting should
enhance the differences in cultures, by using visuals which represent different family and community lives (photos, posters, children
drawings, books etc.), celebrating different cultural events, encouraging the parents to share aspects of their culture and
background at school, for example involving them in food preparation, storytelling, dance and music sessions etc. (MCI, undated c).
Once a child feels loved and trusts others, he/she will need to believe in his/herself, to respect his/herself and others and to create
a positive self-image. Self-esteem is defined by Coopersmith (1967, in Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008, p. 110).) as a personal
judgment of worthiness, which is expressed in the attitudes the individual holds toward himself. A high self-esteem child is one
who is proactive, enthusiastic and motivated, independent, able to control him/herself and show a good behavior, engages in new
experiences, has good listening skills and makes friends easily (Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008). As a condition for building a good
self esteem Rogers (in Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008) suggested the Unconditional Positive Regard: the child is like a seed which
has in it the potential to flourish. Adults can facilitate this process offering the child a genuine appreciation, accepting him/her as a
person (especially important with children with special needs), showing interest in his/hers feelings, opinions, thoughts, and being
empathic. This positive attitude will generate more confidence and as a consequence more independence and more desire for
achievement, which makes the learning process more successful. The child should be exposed to many different opportunities to
learn and master new skills. In a Montessori classroom the children are free to choose these activities, and therefore to express
their own preferences (MCI, undated c).
The individual that has satisfied all the other needs will be able to reach the self-fulfilment level, that is the realization of the
persons own potential (Teachers Toolbox, 2011).
Every person is moved by these universal needs, the difference is in the choices that each individual makes in order to satisfy
them. So to guide the child trough this path that leads to the full expression of the self, it is important to recognize what is the need
that the child is trying to satisfy in the specific situation, and provide for it or help him/her to choose a positive way to satisfy it.