Understanding the best interests of the child (2-3)

Views : 10102

Add to favorites

Rating :

The second model is known as the hierarchy of needs by Abraham Maslow (often depicted as a pyramid)

Why a hierarchy, or pyramid ?

A such construction supposes a first level, a solid foundation ; higher level needs can only come into focus when the lower needs in the pyramid have been satisfied – and as such, each level must be « well-built » because otherwise, the entire pyramid may collapse.

As such, the base of the pyramid comprises physiological needs, the primitive needs that allow a human being to stay alive ; these are « fundamental needs » in the view of Abraham Maslow :

Level 1 = The needs that make up the base of the pyramid are the following:

1- breathing
2- food and water
3- excretion
4- maintenance of appropriate temperature
5- rest and sleep
6- physical and neurological activity
7- bodily contact
8- sex life

Level 2 = Psychological needs defined as « safety needs » :

1- psychological and physical security
2- employment
3- professional and family stability
4- security of property and a place of one’s own
5- protection from injustice and insecurity

Level 3= Social needs, or love and belonging:

1- a sense of acceptance
2- intimacy – giving and receiving love and tenderness
3- friendship and a co-operative, supportive network
4- a sense of appreciation by others
5- a sense of belonging to a group

The needs of children

Only if the above needs have been met do the following higher needs come into focus :

Level 4= esteem :
1- a sense of contribution
2- a sense of self-value (allows for self-acceptance and independence)

Level 5= the peak, or what is known as « self-realization » :
1- problem-solving, learning
2- development of personal values
3- an interior life
4- creativity, or the creation of beauty

The above needs form the basis of the International Rights of the Child. Indeed, one finds the expression of these needs in various forms throughout the Articles of the Convention. However, unfortunately these needs are not everywhere recognized, and the interpretations thereof vary greatly from country to country.

In order to grasp the extent of the inacceptable disparity of the satisfaction of fundamental needs, we can reflect upon the fact that hundreds of millions of individuals in poor countries do not even have access to the pyramid’s first level needs. Meanwhile, in rich countries, millions have satisfied all levels of the pyramid, and have actually come as far as to add an additional level above self-actualization – time !

This fact reflects a preoccupation with slowing down time – the question has become « how to live longer ? »

And yet, for millions of children in the world, the question is dramatically more basic :

« How do I stay alive? »

The concept of the best interests of the child forces us to come up with a concrete and effective answer to this latter question – for all children of the world… 

Chat CyberDodo

To see the cartoon on the subject, click here

To see the quiz, click here

For the games, click here

© CyberDodo Productions Ltd.

How can we define the concept of best interests?

Let's consider that it has to do with what is important to the child - what is necessary to ensure that he or she leads a dignified and happy life. In other words, for all decisions that concern a child, the impact of the decision on the child's life must be taken into consideration and it is his or her interests that must prevail.

This concept, laid down in the very first articles of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, is a general principle that must- or should - be applied to numerous situations, including for example, in the event of the separation of a child's parents (see episode 12 for more information about this subject), in cases of adoption (see episode 18) or with respect to a child's education (see episode 38).

In order to establish what is important for each child, we can refer to certain definitions of the basic or fundamental needs of each human being. Since the 1940s, concepts of these needs has been based on 2 theoretic models, the first commonly called « The 14 fundamental needs according to Virginia Henderson ».

These 14 needs were defined by integrating 3 different approaches :


1. Breathing normally
2. Eating and drinking adequately
3. Eliminating bodily wastes
4. Moving and maintaining a desirable position
5. Sleeping and resting
6. Selecting suitable clothes
7. Maintaining body temperature (by adjusting clothing and modifying the environment)
8. Keeping the body clean and well-groomed
9. Avoiding dangers in the environment
10.Communicating with others (making one’s self understood and understanding others)
11.Acting in accordance with one’s faith and values, including worship
12. Participating in play-based, creative activities to feel a sense of accomplishment
13. Playing or participating in various forms of recreation (without being forced to concentrate on him or herself)
14. Learning, discovering, or satisfying the curiosity that leads to normal development and health, and using available health facilities

Fundamental needs

Each level of needs can only be fulfilled if the previous one has been realized.