The Chalk Blog

Early Childhood Mental Health

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Mental Health Awareness Day is October 10, 2018. 

Many states require educators to take a mental health course to renew their teaching license. At Learners Edge, we offer two courses on the subject of mental health—one for K-12 teachers, Course 854: Caring for the Mental Health of Your Students and the other, for teachers who work with infants, toddlers and preschoolers, Course 915: Caring for the Mental Health of the Young Learner. Course 915 was recently updated and now includes information about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), support and advocacy for those most vulnerable, and proactive strategies to help our youngest students be as healthy as they can be.  

Learn More About ACES

What does mental illness look like in young children? 

As adults, we think of mental illness diagnoses like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. But, for very young children, how do we know if they have a mental illness? According to researchers from Harvard University, “we know that infants and very young children can exhibit behaviors—emotional behaviors—motor behaviors, that are predictive of subsequent mental illness.” As educators, it is important for us to pay close attention to behavior problems or children who have difficulty controlling their emotions. This can be challenging as healthy children can have difficulty controlling their emotions, too. 

Researchers champion the prevention of mental illness through early intervention and stability in children’s environments--as Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  

What does good mental health look like in young children? 

The University of Minnesota’s Dr. Megan Gunnar tells us that good mental health is evident when children demonstrate curiosity and interest in the world around them.  

Other signs of good mental health, according to Gunnar’s research, include: 

  • Children who have the ability to “sit and reflect  
  • Children who show they want to learn 
  • Children who show affection and love 
  • Children who get upset “when things are upsetting” 
  • Children who can calm themselves down without help from others 

To learn more about early childhood mental health, please join Learners Edge and enroll in Course 915: Caring for the Mental Health of the Young Learner! 

Explore Course 915

Sources:

  • “Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, developingchild.harvard.edu/.

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Topics: Early Childhood

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