Head Start families are their children's most important source of healthy social and emotional development. Mental health for babies starts with a caregiver who is "there, aware, and cares." Infants need to form a special bond with someone who is responsive to their needs and who helps foster a growing sense of themselves as individuals. Toddlers need to have consistent boundaries communicated to them as they begin to explore their environments. Preschoolers need help understanding their emotions, giving names to feelings, and managing their frustrations.
All young children benefit when their caregivers are healthy and not too stressed or depressed. The products developed by the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CECMHC) are designed to help Head Start families:
- Find practical tools to help them build positive relationships with their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers
- Build their capacity to use effective strategies in their homes and communities
- Reduce their stress and promote positive well-being
Materials to Decrease Stress Levels
- Taking Care of Ourselves: Stress and Relaxation Resources
It can be challenging to meet the needs of the young children in our care when we are stressed. Explore a variety of relaxation resources to reduce stress and learn how to take care of yourself.
- Maternal Posters | Family Poster | Providers Posters
These posters provide facts about maternal depression and suggested ways get help.
- Five Action Steps to Address Maternal Depression in Head Start Programs
Become familiar with the steps programs can take to reduce the impact of maternal depression on families.
Materials to Promote Knowledge of Social and Emotional Health in Children 0–5
- Parent Posters to Increase Positive Social-Emotional Interactions
Find tips for interacting with children during morning, meal, bath, and bedtime routines.
- "My 1st Year" and "Discovering Feelings" Booklets
Use these booklets to document a baby's first year and help label young children's feelings.
- Infant Toddler Temperament Tool (IT3)
IT3 allows parents and caregivers to recognize and explore their own temperament traits and those of the infants and toddlers in their care.
- Social-Emotional Tips for Families with Infants
Caregivers may use this resource to help parents support their infant's social and emotional development.
- Social-Emotional Tips for Families with Toddlers
Caregivers may use this resource to help parents support their toddler's social and emotional development.
- Everyday Ideas for Increasing Young Children's Opportunities to Practice Social Skills and Emotional Competencies
Find ideas and strategies for teaching children about emotions, friendship, problem-solving, and handling disappointment.
- Choose and Use Guide for Finding Social and Emotional Programs for Parents
Explore parenting curricula designed to help parents develop skills to promote positive social and emotional development and prevent challenging behaviors.
National Centers:Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Last Updated: June 1, 2020