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Social and Emotional Development

Early childhood mental health is often called social and emotional development. This describes the skills a child needs to form relationships and manage his or her emotions. Parents can help children with these skills in many ways, but most important is to provide a consistent and safe environment.

Easy things you can do:

  • Bond with your child by being affectionate and responding to their needs.
  • Create consistent daily routines.
  • As your baby becomes a toddler, praise them for exploring and problem-solving.
  • Get involved in your child’s play and let them take the lead.
  • When your child expresses their emotions remember to be calm and consistent.

Self-care matters too! It can be hard to stay calm and consistent when you are tired and stressed. It is very important for you as a parent to make time to take care of yourself.

If you’re not well, your child won’t be well! Self-care is not selfish; it’s one of the best things you can do for your kids. Taking a break from family can cause guilt and anxiety in mothers and fathers alike. But a few hours away can re-energize you so you can get back to playing with Legos, making dinner and taking care of everyone else.

Maintaining the basic day-to-day with no extraordinary circumstances, keeping all those balls in the air, is a really demanding endeavor, and it leaves very little time for moms and dads to be able to have fun, relax, rest and have downtime.

Being on and at the ready for your children at all times can cause burnout and make things that could be everyday treasures feel like everyday chores. That’s why it’s important that all parents start taking real, regular days/time off. This could mean asking a spouse to take the day off from an office job and be with the kids, or asking a family member to cover you for a day. Maybe it involves hiring a sitter. If you can’t get away, make sure to put yourself first when the kids are napping and do something nice for yourself, something that you enjoy. If you were choosing a child-care provider, and you had a choice between someone who seemed stressed, tired and overwhelmed versus someone who seemed rested, contented, happy and healthy, who would you want for your kids?

If you feel guilty when you take the time to take care of you, remember, not only are you doing it for yourself, you are doing it for your kids!

Self Care Resources for Parents

The Highs and Lows of Parenting

San Mateo County’s Peninsula Family Advocacy Program (FAP)
San Mateo County’s Peninsula Family Advocacy Program (FAP) strives to improve the health and welfare of pregnant women, low income children and their families. FAP provides legal representation, advocacy and education to help address underlying causes of poor health among low-income children.

Parent Support Groups
Find a parent club near you and connet with other parents in your community and in the Bay Area!