Children in the modern world are being exposed to a set of environmental pressures that are unique in human history and this seems to be having a profoundly negative impact on their health and wellbeing.
Flourishing is our birthright – young children are citizens with biological and developmental rights and every child deserves to be provided with an environment that nurtures his or her unique skills, capacities and potential.
The Early Years is the single most important period of our lifespan – our early environments and experiences profoundly influence brain development and the conditions and later mindsets necessary for healthy physical, mental and emotional growth.
The Early Years starts at conception – the health and wellbeing of mothers is essential for the healthy development of the child. Stressed-out and unhappy mothers can create negative epigenetic markers that predispose their children to weaker developmental outcomes.[i]
Relational wellbeing lies at the core of human thriving – we are social beings and the love, affection and consistency of our early caregivers is essential for our development.
Those seeking to reduce deficits and strengthen the economy should make significant investment in early childhood and relational wellbeing - child abuse and neglect is the single most costly cause of mental illness, the single most common cause of drug and alcohol abuse, and a significant contributor to leading causes of death such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and suicide.[ii]
Childhood is increasingly being medicalised – children as young as three are now regularly being prescribed medication to manage their behaviour
Early Years Policymaking should be based upon the new Science of Human Learning and Development – given what we now know it is inexcusable for any government to implement policies that ignore global evidence, are potentially damaging to human flourishing and threaten the health, wealth and sustainability of their populations
We need to protect and nurture the spirit of the child – children are naturally curious, playful, joyful and full of love. We need to ensure that adult-led systems recognise the whole child by nurturing the spirit, inspiring the mind and engaging the heart.
[i] Cao-Lei, L, Laplante, D, King ,S, Prenatal Maternal Stress and Epigenetics: Review of the Human Research, Current Molecular Biology Reports, March 2016, Volume 2, Issue 1,pp 16–25
[ii] Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Children's Charter of Rights
'Children have the right to be recognised as subjects of individual, legal, civil, and social rights; as both source and constructors of their own experience, and thus active participants in the organisation of their identities, abilities, and autonomy, through relationships and interaction with their peers, with adults, with ideas, with objects and with the real and imaginary events of intercommunicating worlds.'