Early Childhood Providers

Social Emotional Health

As an early care and education practitioner, you know that your daily work with our youngest children allows you to have a profound impact on social-emotional health. Social-emotional health is foundational to academic achievement, lifelong health and success. It is formed through infants’ and toddlers’ strong, supportive relationships with their parents or caregivers and the experience of a safe, nurturing environment.

One in five children and adolescents may have a mental health problem, yet an estimated two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems are not getting the help they need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 13% of postpartum women experience depression. Maternal depression significantly impacts a woman’s ability to nurture her infant or toddler, and impacts the overall quality of family life. There is growing evidence that mental health of fathers and other care-givers is as important to young children’s well-being.

As an early childhood practitioner, you are uniquely positioned to address social-emotional health in our youngest children.

You can:

  • Support first relationships by recognizing that quality relationships between parents and children and providers and children are critical to healthy development- relationships are a vital sign!
  • Engage in a “serve and return” interaction with the children you serve and role model and teach this interaction to families
  • Identify everyday opportunities to include teaching resiliency, social-emotional literacy and social-emotional health in your curriculum and other interactions
    Promote positive parenting
  • Link families to local resources to support social-emotional health and provide intervention when necessary
  • Screen children routinely for social-emotional health and families for maternal/caregiver depression/mental health
  • Educate your community about social-emotional health in early childhood
  • Advocate for integrating social-emotional health in early childhood policies/programs

Priority Issues

Champions

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In large part, science has shown us how to best support the health and development of our youngest children – we need to start doing it.

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