Childhood Domains: what makes a good childhood?

A good childhood

This post is part of our series on what makes a good childhood.

The concept of a good childhood means many things to many people. Making a definitive assessment of a good childhood is difficult, but is a task that Berry Street feels is important to undertake for the sake of those children whose childhoods are blighted by violence, poverty, neglect, educational or any other disadvantage.

Berry Street knows a good childhood is fundamental to a child’s sense of wellbeing. A good childhood is characterised by stable, responsive, caring relationships in families and in the community. Children thrive in nurturing environments that encourage them to explore and engage safely with the world around them, and support them to fulfil their potential.

We have outlined below 13 indicators or domains that we consider contribute to a good childhood. These domains have been organised into three broad outcomes for children, namely to: Thrive, Achieve and Belong.


  • Safety and Security
  • Healthy Development
  • Material and Economic resources


  • Education and Learning
  • Positive sense of self
  • Being
  • Age appropriate independence and competence
  • Building Resilience


  • Love, care and commitment
  • Culture and spiritual connection
  • Positive social relationships
  • Participation
  • Child-friendly communities

Childhood Domains – marginalised children and young people

The marginalised children and young people with whom we work – those who have suffered abuse, neglect or trauma; those who are disadvantaged by poverty; have received poor parental health and education; or have experienced trauma and dislocation from kin and country – often require intensive and long-term support.

The needs of marginalised children and young people, who often lack positive and secure attachments to family and community, are great:

  • They need warm, responsive, attuned care in an environment that is free from abuse, neglect and violence
  • They need support to remediate the impacts of poor or absent parenting
  • They need preventative programs to redress health and developmental concerns
  • They need positive role models and mentors in their life
  • They need support to help them develop their sense of identity and self-esteem
  • They need to be engaged and supported in effective learning and education.

The childhood domains outlined above contribute to the wellbeing of children and their experience of childhood. The absence of many of them is what sets apart the children and young people with whom we work.

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