Infant and early childhood mental health includes a full spectrum of social and emotional functioning. This ranges from the ability to form satisfying relationships with others, play, communicate, learn, and express emotions, to the disorders of very early childhood. This is a critical aspect of a young child’s development, as well as for identifying and treating mental health concerns.
A child’s social-emotional development is as important as her brain and physical development. It is her desire to connect with others that motivates her to learn. Her sense of who she is in the world deeply impacts how much and how well she learns, as well as the quality of the relationships she builds with others. In this section you will learn about how social and emotional development unfolds and how you can support this critical area of a young child’s growth.
There’s a lot happening during playtime. Little ones are lifting, dropping, looking, pouring, bouncing, hiding, building, knocking down, and more. And while they are having all this fun, they are also learning. They are learning how to solve problems (such as how to get the block tower to stand up) and discovering new concepts, like what sinks and floats. They are experimenting with new roles and language during dress-up time, and figuring out how to use their bodies in new ways on the playground. Play is the true work of childhood. When you join in your child’s play, she is also learning that she is loved and important and fun to be around. This gives her the self-confidence she needs to build loving and supportive relationships as she grows.
Parenting consultations are one way to work through how to manage your toddler's new behaviors. Learning more about the developmental stage your child is in, along with strategies to build your toddler's sense of agency can allow you to have a better understanding of how to support her growth and development.