What Is Infant Mental Health?
Infant mental health reflects both the social-emotional capacities and the primary relationships in very young children. Because young children’s social experiences and opportunities to explore the world depend on the love and care they receive, the child and the child’s relationships are central to infant mental health. It is essential to ensure that first relationships are trusting and caring, since early relationships provide an important foundation for later development.
Why Is Infant Mental Health Important?
Healthy social and emotional growth promotes a range of positive behavior skills, which develop during early childhood and grow over time. These skills build on one another, and have a life long impact on a person’s relationships.
Key developmental skills give young children the ability to:
- Manage impulses and regulate their own behavior;
- Learn to identify and start to understand their own feelings;
- Manage strong emotions and express them in a constructive manner;
- Recognize emotions and emotional cues in others;
- Develop empathy for others;
- Establish and sustain close relationships and friendships; and
- Develop confidence, cooperativeness and the capacity to communicate.