UNODC Supports Healthy Children & Families Through 'Listen First' Campaign

© Getty Images / Erkan Gozcan

Vienna (Austria), 15 January 2021 — Listen First is an initiative to increase support for prevention of drug use that is based on science and is thus an effective investment in the well-being of children and youth, their families and their communities. Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe.

Even during the ongoing health crisis, when families around the world are doing their part by self-isolating, it is important to create and maintain a healthy environment for children. A positive family environment includes regular, genuine praise for their efforts and daily physical activity — to help them grow strong and perform better in school

To that effect, two new elements for the global Listen First campaign were launched today, to continue supporting the health and wellbeing of families worldwide.

Science of Praise

Praising children’s behaviour makes them feel safe and secure; it can improve self-esteem, increase motivation and enhance perseverance. While science shows that children’s self-esteem is nurtured within positive family environments where parents are warm and supportive, over exaggerating or inflating praise can be detrimental. The most effective praise is earnest, specific and focused on effort — not the child’s abilities or physical appearance.

Science of Physical Activity

Most people are aware of the health benefits of regular physical activity, such as  strong bones, lower blood pressure, better sleep quality and a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease. Physical activity can also enhance learning and memory by stimulating brain growth and improving children’s motor skills and cognitive development.


UNODC encourages everyone —parents, teachers, policy makers, health and prevention workers, and the wider public— to listen to children, and support their healthy development through a science-based approach. 

Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow up in a safe and healthy environment. The ongoing global health crisis that limits social interaction renders this more important than ever before. 

These materials are part of the #ScienceOfCare campaign, that develops new and interactive ways to #ListenFirst and promote the healthy development of children and youth. All materials can be found at

Upcoming Listen First materials to look forward to:

February 2021 Science of Information & Science of Routines

March 2021    Science of Staying Busy

New Campaign Elements: