What does it look like and how can you support your child during every season?
What is early childhood mental health?
Children are constantly developing. Their brains are taking in an immense amount of information during their early years of life. Children’s environments, social interactions, and discoveries are shaping their development each day. Because their brains are constantly developing, they respond differently than adults to stressful situations. Helping your child cope and supporting them through tough times is important to maintaining healthy brain development.
How can you support your child’s mental health?
There are two big ways to support positive mental health in your child’s early years. One is through creating an environment conducive to learning and developing. The other is by providing positive interactions as they explore that environment. It’s important to ensure they’re given opportunities for open-ended exploration, problem-solving, and fun! Encourage them and offer positive feedback along the way.
Structure their learning environment to include:
As they explore and discover, encourage them with phrases such as:
Being present, engaging, and encouraging are key components to ensuring your child’s mental health remains positive and sets them up for a successful future.
What does it look like when a child is stressed or has a disruption in their mental health?
First, pay attention to their behavior. Signs of stress may not be readily apparent because a child’s ability to verbalize their feelings varies. The signs of stress can appear for a brief period or last for longer periods. You may observe any number of the following changes:
What can you do to support your child during a stressful situation?
Now that we know what to look out for, you can support children by sharing and teaching them ways to cope with stress, such as:
Mental health in early childhood can set the stage for children’s lives in the future. Equipping yourself and your children with ways to manage stress will help prepare them to navigate the early years and beyond with confidence.