How to Support Mental Health in Early Childhood
Did you know a child's early experiences shape their social, emotional and cognitive development and lay the foundations for their mental health later in life?
An infant's brain development is greatly influenced by their early caregiving relationships. Babies are hardwired to communicate with us to get their needs met to survive and thrive. Responding sensitively and contingently by understanding our baby’s needs for them initially, followed by working together with them to determine their needs as they grow (co-regulation) supports them to make sense of their own needs (self-regulation), positively influencing the development of a secure attachment. Creating a warm and responsive relationship with your baby through nurturance, delight and good enough parenting will support them to feel valued, safe, and secure.
And as a parent, as you become more attuned to your child’s needs and wants they will grow more confident every day as they learn to rely on their trust in your relationship as a secure base from which to explore their world and as a safe haven to return to.
How else can you support the development of a secure attachment?
Create a Safe & Predictable Environment
: If a child feels safe in their environment, they are likely to develop positive self-esteem and self-confidence. You can create a safe environment by encouraging routines, structure and predictability at home. The routine can be as simple as taking a jacket and shoes off and washing hands when you return home. Soon enough, your child will be able to do this routine all by themselves as they grow.
Responding to Your Child's Needs
: Nurturing and responsive care for your child's body and mind is the key to supporting their brain development and emotional wellbeing. It is through a parent's responsive caregiving that a child begins to develop their own sense of self and other, and defines their identity and sense of belonging.
Parents Need to Look After Themselves Too
: It's also vital for caregivers to set time aside to eat healthy, exercise, sleep, and do things they enjoy which is often challenging when meeting the needs of a baby too. This will ensure they can stay physically, mentally and emotionally well and in turn, provide their child with the care and connection they need to grow and thrive.
A secure attachment relationship has proven to be associated with many positive outcomes in adult life - including enhanced conflict resolution skills, higher self-esteem, emotional intelligence, good social skills, creating healthy relationships, academic achievement and successful career paths.
And while children may demonstrate behavioural and social and emotional difficulties at a very early age, it is never too late to improve their wellbeing and mental health through parent-child relationships.
If you would like to learn more about promoting a secure attachment relationship with your child, take a look at the 'Circle Of Security Parenting Course' by Enhance Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Consultancy. These sessions can be delivered flexibly and privately for individual families or small groups at your convenience either in the comfort of your home (depending on location), or via telehealth. Find out more here.
261639 - 2023-07-25 06:29:13
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