One in ten children has a mental illness serious enough to impair how he or she functions at home, at school, and with peers. 

One in ten children has a mental illness serious enough to impair how he or she functions at home, at school, and with peers. 

Not only is this Teacher Appreciation Week, but it is also Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental Health in early childhood is important for children’s success in school and in life. Many people wonder what mental health looks like for young children and how we can support children’s mental health. For young children it looks like the ability to get along with others, focus, follow directions, solve problems, and care about how other people feel.

A strong foundation is important in building mental health and that foundation is attachment. Attachment is the connection or bond that young children form with trusted caregivers in the early years of life. Healthy attachments allow children to trust, feel safe, and have the confidence to explore their environment and learn.

What do healthy attachments look like for young children?

  • Infants will seek and accept comfort from you. This includes crying. Children cry to communicate and when you respond to your baby’s cries, she learns that you will meet her needs and comfort her. Your infant will also smile, coo, and look at you to engage your attention.
  • Your toddler will express a variety of emotions (happy, sad, proud, frustrated, and more). He will show interest in his surroundings. He will seek you out to meet his needs and accept comfort and support from you.
  • Your preschooler will show affection for you and want you to play and read with her. She will trust you and be excited to see you. She will begin to develop friendships and seek help from friends.

Building healthy attachments starts with responsive interactions. This means observing your child’s cues and behaviors and responding to meet their needs in a loving, supportive way. It also means engaging with your child through back-and-forth interactions, play, hugs and cuddles, and conversations. These are just a few of the things that you do as parents each day to build a healthy attachment. By building healthy attachments, you are supporting your child’s mental health.

If you want to read more about mental health and building mental health check out these other blog posts here and here.

Post by Jessica Sims 

Posted
AuthorSteph Smith