1.2 Learning outcomes

When you have studied this session, you should be able to:

  • define and use correctly the key words
  • define who is a child
  • describe the key characteristics of childhood
  • understand how different cultures influence childhood
  • reflect on and re-evaluate your own understanding of childhood.

Activity 1.1: Remembering what it feels like to be a child

Remembering your own childhood experiences is a good way of helping you understand what it feels like to be a child. If you can recall how you felt when good and bad things happened to you, you can be more sensitive to the behaviour and responses of children you work with now.  

Look back at your childhood experiences. Spend 5 minutes thinking about how it felt being a child. Then think about:

  1. An occasion, event or experience that made you feel happy.
  2. An occasion, event or experience that made you feel sad, worried or frightened.
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Looking back at your childhood experiences may have helped you remember some of the things you liked and made you happy. They could have been things like special clothes or food, ceremonies, visiting friends or games you liked to play. It could have been an achievement like winning a prize that made your parents and teachers praise you. On the other hand, thinking back could have reminded you of things that frightened you, certain people, certain animals, remembering someone dying, being in the dark, being taken to hospital, or even getting an injection. You might have remembered times when you were treated unfairly, not listened to, punished or beaten by your teachers, parents or other adults.

These memories can help you understand how significantly the behaviour of adults affects children’s emotional well-being. Children can be very vulnerable to the way adults respond to them. Praise, criticism and neglect can often have lasting implications in a child’s life – it is easy to forget this. By recalling your own experiences, you can become more sensitive to the impact of your tone of voice, words, attitudes and actions on a child.

1.3 Who is a child?