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February 21, 2018

Early Childhood Mental Health

Course 854: Caring for the Mental Health of Your Students and the other, for teachers who work with infants, toddlers and pre schoolers, Course 915: Caring for the Mental Health of the Young Learner. Course 915was recently updated and now includes information about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), support and advocacy for those most vulnerable, and proactive strategies to help our youngest students be as healthy as they can be.

What does mental illness look like in young children?

As adults, we think of mental illness diagnoses like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. But, for very young children, how do we know if they have a mental illness? According to researchers from Harvard University, “we know that infants and very young children can exhibit behaviors—emotional behaviors—motor behaviors, that are predictive of subsequent mental illness.” As educators, it is important for us to pay close attention to behavior problems or children who have difficulty controlling their emotions. This can be challenging as healthy children can have difficulty controlling their emotions, too. 

Researchers champion the prevention of mental illness through early intervention and stability in children’s environments–as Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 

What does good mental health look like in young children?

The University of Minnesota’s Dr. Megan Gunnartellsus that good mental health isevident when children demonstrate curiosity and interest in the world around them.

Other signs of good mental health, according to Gunnar’s research, include:

  • Children whohave the ability to“sit andreflect”
  • Children whoshow they want to learn
  • Children who show affection and love
  • Children who get upset “when things are upsetting”
  • Children who can calm themselves down without help from others

To learn more about early childhood mental health, please join Learners Edge and enroll in Course 915: Caring for the Mental Health of the Young Learner!


  • “Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.”Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University,



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