Promoting Good Early Childhood Mental Health Crystal Mathews ECE: 214 September 13, 2010 Promoting Good Early Childhood Mental Health The 1999 Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General defined children’s mental health as “the achievement of expected developmental cognitive, social, and emotional mile stones and by secure attachments, satisfying social relationships and effective coping skills” (“Chapter Three Children and mental health, 1999).
It is important that the first six years of life we help establish developmental competencies that will contribute to a child’s school readiness as well as maintain them on the course to become mentally healthy adults. There are many things that contribute to a child’s mental health such as biological, environmental, and developmental factors. (Sorte,Daeschel & Amador 2010 p. 417) Biological factors are specific to the individual child and are present at birth such as: * Height Appearance * Temper * Physical and health attributes These factors play a role in how the caregiver takes to the child. Children’s minds learn how to interact with others and what to expect by the early relationships with caregivers. For example the child is likely to respond negatively when a caregiver responds to them negatively. (Sorte,Daeschel & Amador 2010 p. 417) Environmental factors are factors that deal with social and emotional development.
Examples of environmental factors are: * Family life situations * Community well-being * Death * Divorce Environmental factors play an important role in the etiology of emotional problems in childhood. It is important that we as caregivers notice signs of mental health problems early so we can better address the child’s needs. (Sorte,Daeschel & Amador 2010 p. 417-418) One of the main goals of early childhood centers is to promote healthy social and emotional development in children.
Creating appropriate settings, positive relationships and implementing strategies that encourage social and emotional development is a great way to have a good impact on a child’s development. (Sorte,Daeschel & Amador 2010 p. 424) Most children spend many hours each week in the care of someone other than their parents. Parents early childhood educators and teachers who are warm and responsive are more likely to promote strong social and emotional skills in children, which means that the classroom environment must enable teachers the time to focus on individual children.
It is important for attachment to form between parent and child, so is such an attachment important for caregiver and child. This means that staff turnover in preschool programs should be kept to a minimum (National Scientific Council 2004). Preschool teachers can foster a child’s mental health and well-being in many ways. They can start by asking open-ended questions that require reflection and speculation, during unstructured play. Also a care giver might let the child explore new things, letting them use their imaginations and invention of ideas.
Preschool education programs should have a balanced curriculum that focuses on the needs of the children, provide opportunities for peer interactions, and produce high levels of teacher-child closeness. (Sorte,Daeschel & Amador 2010 p. 430) A child should enhance their social/emotional skills by being able to understand their own feelings and those others, cooperate with peers and adults, and are able to resolve conflicts successfully. This helps prepare a child for school-readiness. (Sorte,Daeschel & Amador 2010 p. 28) To learn anything in a school setting, a child has to ignore the child next to him who is fun to play with and make his mind concentrate on the story the teacher is reading. The ability to pay attention and to remember things on purpose is self-regulation. Self-regulation is what preschool children must learn before entering into kindergarten. Preschool teachers must teach them to regulate their impulses according to the rules of the new setting. Teachers can teach many different activities that teach self-regulation. (Sorte,Daeschel & Amador 2010 p. 429)
A child’s ability to learn and to function as a contributing member of society depends on the development of social competency and emotional health that begins at birth and is greatly influenced during the preschool years. Preschool programs that notice signs of mental illness, and continue practicing different teachings that implement social/emotional development will help a child succeed in moving on to kindergarten. It is important that we pay close attention to children and making sure we as caregivers are taking every opportunity to help a child with school readiness.
References Chapter three Children and mental health . (1999). Mental health: A report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved September 09, 2010, from http://www. surgeongeneral. gov/library/mentalhealth/toc. html National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. Young children develop in an environment of relationships. Working paper #1. Retrieved September 09, 2010 from http://www. developingchild. net/papers/paper_1. pdf Sorte, J. , Daeschel, I. , & Amador, C. (2010). Nutrition, Health, and Safety for Young Children.