What can we count as success in our caring roles?

What do we mean when we think of ourselves as a “successful” professional?
As a caring professional, how do we know we have done “well enough” when working with children and young people and families?

When working in busy contexts where it is hard sometimes to stop and think about what values underpin all that we do, it can be disheartening at times to think that we may not be making much difference. So it is therefore crucial that we, caring professionals, remind ourselves of what drives and what are we doing well.

To that end, we first need to define for ourselves what it means to be successful when working with children, young people and families.

Dr Helena Marujo and her colleagues, in their book about raising optimistic and positive children, talk precisely about this. Taking Positive Psychology as a framework to define success in our caring roles, their view is that we need to consider the extent to which we show are able to promote optimism and resilience in children.

Below is a checklist adapted from Marujo et al (1999) which I hope will help us reflect on our many successes when working with children, young people and families.

To what extent do you:
  • Enjoy what we do and having pleasure when in company of children and families
  • Inspire children and colleagues
  • Are able to create a positive communication amongst health, social and care services (school, hospital, home)
  • Share a spirit of happiness and enthusiasm
  • Know that learning/caring is an affective process and the priority must be given to feelings
  • Are able to link what we aim to teach to children to their own interests and real lives
  • Get to know each child on a individualised manner
  • Are able to foster happiness, smiles, play, sense of humour so that children enjoy being in your company (e.g., at the hospital appointment, classroom, etc)
  • Are positive and credible role models
  • Love as much teaching and caring for others as learning and caring for yourself
  • Promote a spirit of collaboration amongst children and colleagues
  • Promote inclusive communities
  • Have children who are reflective, participatory, creative and that express their thoughts and feelings in a critical manner
  • Have children who offer you a flower, a drawing, a poem, or who in any other way share with your their deepest feelings
  • Have children who as adults come to thank you for what you have taught them or for how you cared for them
  • Have children who care for others because of the fantastic way you cared for them


Neto, L. M., Marujo, H. & Perloiro, M. F. (1999) Educar para o optimismo: Guia para professores e pais. Lisboa: Editorial Presença (19ª Edição).

With best wishes,

Dora Bernardes