Children’s behavior is a message — and not always an easy one to understand.
If a child is having behavior challenges, it’s important to look at the whole environment that the child is a part of, including home and child care. Whether a child has eaten, had a good or bad drop off at school, how well they slept the night before can all impact their mood and well-being. Also important is the care environment, including the schedule and activities, and the relationships that a child has with other children and adults.
All of these factors have an impact on a child’s behavior. So it can be hard to know how to help a child who is struggling.
What Is Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation?
Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants work in child care programs across Jeffco to examine the system of care around a child who may be having trouble. It’s not individual therapy, but an approach that helps providers, parents and other adults support social-emotional learning in young children.
“Our role when we give consultation is to support healthy development. We aren’t looking at the things that are wrong necessarily, but rather how we can support the things that are going well,” says Briana Johannesen, Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant with Jefferson Center for Mental Health.
“If there are places where the child is struggling, we look at what the adults can do to support them and help them build new skills.”
Even if your child is cared for at home and is not in a formal child care setting, Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation is still available to your family! Call the Warmline at 303-432-5455.
“Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation is focused on supporting children’s social-emotional skills: how they can express and manage their feelings appropriately, build strong relationships, and get along with others,” says Joy Wishtun,Early Childhood Family Services Manager who works with Jeffco child care providers and families.
“It’s important that children build a strong foundation of social-emotional skills in the early years before they go to kindergarten. Social-emotional skills help children be ready to learn and succeed in school.”
Being ready for school means that a child has the skills they need to be able to sit at a desk, listen and follow directions, get along well with others, and complete activities that may be less exciting to them than playing. The foundation for all of these skills begins in early childhood.
Age-by-Age Tip Sheets to Support Social-Emotional Development
Children are not born knowing how to wait patiently, resolve conflicts peacefully, or control their impulses. They learn these social-emotional skills through loving relationships and intentional support from the adults around them.
Children’s brains are growing so quickly in the first few years that helping them develop social-emotional skills today will provide them with a foundation for mental health their whole lives.
But sometimes as adults we’re not sure how we can help our children learn these essential skills. These age-by-age tip sheets can help you get started.