Children are unique individuals whose health are very important. The health of a child plays a great part in how healthy the adult will be and invariably how productive he/she will be in the society. In order to have healthy children, it is important to identify the health needs of children so it can be adequately met.
Health is defined by WHO as a state of physical, mental, and social well-being. The health needs of the child are needs that achieve child-well being, thus child well-being is meeting the physical, mental and social needs of a child. This shows that being healthy goes beyond the borders of physical health and includes mental and social health too.
Physical health needs:
The physical health needs of the child focuses on preventing, and curing diseases and dealing with the consequences of their sequel.
These activities will include:
- Age-appropriate immunizations
- Regular preventive care also called child surveillance or well-child visits where the children have scheduled and regular doctors’ visits to screen them for any underlying health condition from infancy through adolescence. This will help to prevent disease and detect physical and developmental abnormalities from an early age
- prompt treatment for acute illnesses and injuries
- Nutritious and well balanced food. A well-nourished child is more likely to have better immunity, and less likely to develop diseases like Diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases.
- Adequate sleep: children often need more sleep than adults to replenish themselves, and for proper growth and development. According to experts, School-aged children (5 to 12 years old) need about 9 to 12 hours of sleep every day. This may be more in younger children.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can help children and adolescents improve cardio-respiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes mellitus, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Osteoporosis, and Obesity.
Mental health needs
Children also have mental health needs. The need to address the child’s mental health has become more important as the rate of depression and suicide among children, pre-teens and teenagers have increased in recent times. Their mental health needs can be addressed in the following ways:
- Unconditional love from family. The children should be made to feel loved and support from the family irrespective of their achievements.
- Self-confidence: children with self-confidence have high self-esteem and are better suited to function well in the society.
- Ability to build strong, caring relationships: children learn this from their family members and significant people in their lives. Such children adapt better to the society.
- Respect for their feelings: Children who are listened to and their feelings of happiness, anger, guilt, sadness, disappointments respected and properly guided will develop better emotional intelligence.
- Safe and secure surroundings: Children who feel safe in their immediate environments and homes, without fear of abandonment and violence have healthier mental health.
- Appropriate guidance and discipline: Children who are taught boundaries and understand them and discipline are more likely to have healthy relationships with both peers and the law.
The growing child will ultimately be part of a larger society. A healthy child should adapt well into the society and be able to function properly. The social health needs of a child are basically met when a child’s physical and mental health needs are met as a physically healthy child with healthy emotions and mental health is more likely to adapt better to the pressure of the society and function properly.
Who can provide the health needs of the child?
From the listed needs, it is obvious that the meeting the health needs of a child starts with the family and immediate home environment. These include the parents, siblings, close family connections, extended family members, and anybody that the growing child will come in contact with in the immediate environment.
The medical personnel will include but not limited to: the Pediatrician, the pediatric nurse, the childhood developmental experts, child psychologists, nutritionists, child health inspectors, etc. These people support the home to meet the health needs of a child.
Be sure to avail yourself of the services of these people if you have any concerns about your growing children.