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When talking about mental health, you may only think about it affecting adults and older children, right? Did you know that babies can struggle with mental health challenges, as well?

As babies, the way we are cared for builds the foundation for our social and emotional development. The way we are treated as infants teaches us about who we are, and this strongly shapes who we will become.

It’s crucial for parents to build a strong foundation for social and emotional development during the first three years of an infant’s life because it’s on this foundation that future learning and relationships will be built. Below, we offer tips on how to promote strong, positive mental wellness in your young child.

Engage in affectionate and nurturing interactions

Holding, singing, rocking or talking to infants are interactions that might seem natural to parents. But, these exchanges are more fundamental to a child’s development than one might know. These connections provide your child with the stimulation his or her growing brain needs. Positive interactions send messages to your baby that he or she is valued. As a result, your child will grow up knowing to treat others in a similar manner.

Study your child’s behavior

How often do you truly observe not only what your child is doing but also why he or she is doing it? Taking time to study a child’s behavior can tell us a lot. It offers clues on what stressors make your child tick, which allows you to deduce why they behave as they do. This knowledge will help you respond to certain behaviors in a way that is productive and supports positive development. For example, children might bite to express feelings of frustration. Understanding the underlying cause of the biting will help you develop an effective response. It might be that your child lacks the language skills necessary for expressing his or her needs.

Accept and learn from the challenges

We won’t sugar coat it – raising a child is difficult. There are daily challenges both you and your child must face together. But, it’s important to realize that challenges are a natural and important part of a child’s development. Challenging times help you learn what does and doesn’t work for your child – because every child is unique. Going through certain experiences – and then learning from those experiences – is a critical part of the development process, as it teaches children problem-solving skills, builds self-confidence and engrains coping techniques.

If you’re seeking guidance on how to positively develop your young child, we encourage you to contact South Bay Community Services to set up sessions with one of our Early Intervention clinicians. During these sessions, our clinicians strive to operate from a place of strength. Our approach is to help families identify their own strengths so they are empowered to foster their children’s growth and development.

We understand it can be difficult to reach out for help when it comes to raising and developing your child. Know that seeking guidance does not make you a bad parent – it shows you are a proactive parent who is responsive to the needs of your child. It’s common for parents to learn how to raise a child based on their own experiences as children. In turn, many parents may have wished their early environments were different. Our clinicians work to help families develop positive approaches. The family’s effort with the support of our Early Intervention team will help to ensure growth, stability and well-being during a child’s early years. Let us help you and your child have the best possible beginning!

For more information, contact us at 508-521-2200 or click here.