Mental stress and strain of young children in early childcare: development and testing of an observation-based risk assessment.

Project No. FF-FP 0453




Children under three years of age in early childcare and family daycare are a target group of the accident insurance institutions. Still, there are currently no scientifically based risk assessment procedures available, although both the obligation and the need exist. The literature shows that more than 30% of children under three years of age – in the eastern German states even more than 50% – regularly spend a lot of time (often 45 hours per week) in early childcare. There they are exposed to stresses and strains that may lead to negative consequences which continue into adulthood. Childcare providers and pedagogical staff must be supported in recognizing risks in time and in planning and implementing preventive and health-promoting measures.

The proposed project aims to develop a scientifically sound observation-based procedure for the psychological risk assessment of children under the age of three. This target group is being focused on because, due to their stage of development, they are both particularly vulnerable and hardly able to provide reliable information about stressful situations and strains on their own. By minimizing the risks of low biopsychosocial well-being and high stress levels, the social and emotional competencies of children are to be strengthened, and disorders and behavioral problems counteracted in a preventive manner. In the medium and long term, this serves to prevent violence and to ensure health and the ability to work in later life.


The project can be classified as design-oriented practice research. This is characterized by the inclusion of relevant actors in a field and by the combination of theoretical-methodological knowledge of the researchers and practical knowledge and field expertise of the practitioners. Structured by four defined work packages, the procedure for risk assessment including explanatory accompanying materials is developed in close cooperation with four teams of childcare facilities ("inner circle"). Subsequently, an extended circle of facilities (N = approx. 30) evaluates the procedure, taking into account different structural conditions, diverse parent clientel and public as well as private providers in order to ensure transferability. After successful completion of the project, the risk assessment tool will be made available to providers and childcare centers nationwide.

Last Update:

21 Dec 2021


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Universität Leipzig

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

mental stress factors


risk assessment, mental strain/stress, prevention

Description, key words:

psychological stress, children, childcare, daycare