Have you ever toured a childcare facility or met with a potential caregiver for your child and wondered: what questions should I be asking? How do you really know, and how can you really gauge, if your child is being given positive care? A research article by the U.S. Department of Health and Services described “positive caregiving” in the following terms*:


Positive caregiving is a measure of care quality that is based on direct observations of caregiver behavior. Positive caregiving behaviors include:

  • Showing a positive attitude—is the caregiver generally in good spirits and encouraging when interacting with the child? is he or she helpful? Does the caregiver smile often at the child?
  • Having positive physical contact—Does the caregiver hug the child, pat the child on the back, or hold the child’s hand? Does the caregiver comfort the child?
  • Responding to vocalizations—Does the caregiver repeat the child’s words, comment on what the child says or tries to say, and answer the child’s questions?
    • Asking questions—Does the caregiver encourage the child to talk/communicate by asking questions that the child can answer easily, such as “yes” or “no” questions, or asking about a family member or toy?
    • Talking in other ways—such as:
      • Praising or encouraging—Does the caregiver respond to the child’s positive actions with positive words, such as “You did it!” or “Well done!”?
  • Teaching—Does the caregiver encourage the child to learn or have the child repeat learning phrases or items, such as saying the alphabet out loud, counting to 10, and naming shapes or objects? for older children, does the caregiver explain what words or names mean?
  • Telling and singing—Does the caregiver tell stories, describe objects or events, or sing songs?
  • Encouraging development—Does the caregiver help the child to stand up and walk? for infants, does the caregiver encourage “tummy time”—activities the child does when placed on his or her stomach while awake—to help neck and shoulder muscles get stronger and to encourage crawling? for older children, does the caregiver help finish puzzles, stack blocks, or zip zippers?
  • Advancing behavior—Does the caregiver encourage the child to smile, laugh, and play with other children? Does the caregiver support sharing between the child and other children? Does the caregiver give examples of good behaviors?
  • Reading—Does the caregiver read books and stories to the child? Does the caregiver let the child touch the book and turn the page? for older children, does the caregiver point to pictures and words on the page?
  • Eliminating negative interactions—Does the caregiver make sure to be positive, not negative, in the interactions with the child? Does the caregiver take a positive approach to interacting with the child, even in times of trouble? Does the caregiver make it a point to interact with the child and not ignore him or her?

Visit a Creative World School near you to see Positive Caregiving in action!