Childhood Mental Health

What is Early Childhood Mental Health?

Early childhood mental health refers to the ability of children to experience, control and express their emotions, form close and secure relationships, and learn while exploring their environment. These abilities are fostered and grow within the context of a positive caregiving environment. Children’s community also plays a large role in their mental health.

Why is it Important?

Research is showing that our mental and physical health is interconnected in so many ways that we cannot talk about one without considering the other. Young children need to develop skills that will help them be mentally and physically healthy throughout their lives. Developing these skills can help to prevent chronic physical illnesses and behavioral, learning, and mental health problems later in life. These skills will also help children adapt to transitions and stress in their lives, including school.

We can all help children develop the skills that they need for healthy development in early childhood. These skills include:
  • Making sense of and being able to control their emotions
  • Controlling their impulses
  • Understanding other people’s emotions, facial expression and body language
  • Forming secure attachments with their caregivers
  • Actively exploring their environment
  • Developing a sense of curiosity
  • Developing social skills
  • Learning to communicate with others
  • Feeling safe in their homes
  • Coping with changes and new environments
  • Understanding and accepting differences among people
  • Developing resilience (skills to cope with change and stress)
Thank-you to the Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health for their contribution to the Early Childhood Mental Health Program. It is through their support that many of the available resources have been developed.