Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health for Educators
Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health for Educators

Social Emotional Development & Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

The early years of a child’s life are critically important for learning and development as the early years are among the most sensitive periods for brain development.

  • Social and emotional development begins at birth with infants building attachments and trust with their caregivers, learning how to calm themselves, and later, recognizing emotions in themselves and others.
  • Making friends. Waiting patiently. Caring for others. Resolving conflicts peacefully. Controlling emotions. Following the rules. These are all examples of social and emotional skills that children must learn gradually over time – with the support of caring adults.

Providers (child care and education, health care, home visitors or others), play an essential role in the healthy social-emotional development of the children in our care.

  • Parents trust us to provide compassionate care for their children. Part of this role is to ensure parents who have concerns about their child’s development receive referrals to screening, evaluation, and appropriate treatment.
  • During infancy and the toddler years, mental health problems may present as difficulty managing or expressing emotions or the lack of secure attachments with caregivers. During the preschool years, mental health problems may result in challenging behaviors, including class disruption or withdrawal.
  • Instead of viewing challenging behaviors simply as a disruption, providers should be aware that these behaviors often are the result of social and emotional factors and represent a teaching opportunity (for both the parent and the child), which can be effectively addressed within the home and through external support programs that are available in our community.

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) is excited to offer Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) to all First Class Pre-K (FCPK) programs at no cost to schools or families. The IECMHC service is provided in partnership with the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH).

What is IECMHC?
Families face many challenges in life, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our IECMH Consultants specialize in the social and emotional development of children, ages birth to five, and work with families and the adults who care for children to provide support in addressing challenging behaviors. This FREE service is considered an early intervention designed to promote healthy relationships and reduce the impact of potential mental health problems in the future and explore strategies to help children and families have a positive early learning experience.