Baby & Child Mental Health
In this short animated video, narrated by Center on the Developing Child Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., learn how early experiences affect not only early learning and school readiness but also lifelong physical and mental health.
Science tells us that the foundations of sound mental health are built early in life. Early experiences—including children’s relationships with parents, caregivers, relatives, teachers, and peers—interact with genes to shape the architecture of the developing brain.
Your child will experience a sense of felt safety if you or a caregiver can consistently respond to your child's emotions, needs, and wants.
Being attuned to when your child experiences intense emotions and letting them relax when they are feeling relaxed is important when providing your child with a sense of being seen and known.
Providing a feeling of comfort for your child over time will help them develop the capacity for representational thinking. This means they will be able to carry a representation of that felt comfort experience inside themselves.
When your child can count on you to show delight in who they are, they feel valued and the experience of feeling valuable emerges. When you express delight in not just what your child does, but who they are, they develop self-esteem.
Giving your child support to explore, discover, succeed, and fail develops the best and most unique sense of self within them. Your child will feel encouraged to try new things and won't feel pressured to succeed at everything while they develop themselves.
Trauma experienced during childhood, also known as ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), can have a lasting impact on your child's physical and mental health and well-being later on in their life.
Take a deep breath and count to 10. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply. Deep breathing can help oxygenate your blood and clear your mind when stressed.
A brisk walk can knock out stress and improve your mood.
Music can do wonders to relieve stress. Whether you would rather listen to pop, country, or rock, your favorite music can help you feel good and de-stress.
Talking to a friend is always a good way to de-stress. Pick up the phone and talk it out with a trusted friend.
A pet’s soothing presence is a great stress reliever. If you take your dog for a walk, you can get the stress-relieving benefits of exercise too.
Taking a short 20-minute nap has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which aids in stress relief. Grab a pillow and hit the hay.