Defining wellbeing is especially challenging because of the different ways in which the concept is understood in different contexts and by different people. Rather than being driven by a definition, organisations have focused on dimensions and descriptions (Dodge, Daly, Huyton, & Sanders, 2012). What various authors agree on is the multidimensional character of wellbeing and the fact that different dimensions are deeply intertwined.
A number of frameworks have been developed and used by governments and organisations such as the European Commission, Save the Children and UNICEF. While the ways of organising and measuring different dimensions and indicators differ, all such frameworks seem to include versions of the following: a material dimension, a link to standards of living; a subjective dimension, how people feel; and a relational dimension which emphasises the importance of people’s relationships with others (White, 2010). In OECD countries, UNICEF adopts a framework with six dimensions: material wellbeing; health and safety; educational wellbeing; family and peer relationships; behaviour and risks; and subjective wellbeing. The European Union lists housing and environmental conditions rather than family and peer relationships.
Debates on the measurement and conceptualisation of children’s wellbeing are beyond the scope of this handbook and are well developed elsewhere. What is important in this context is that children’s wellbeing remains the normative goal of co-designed built interventions with children, and that it is a multidimensional concept addressing the rights presented in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. For a recent analysis of the different child wellbeing frameworks, please refer to Cho & Yu (2020) which we briefly review in box 2.