A Focus on Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health

November 2022
This newsletter focuses on sharing information on infant/early childhood mental health and
the importance of relationship-based approaches and supports that help infants and young children feel safe, supported, and valued by the adults around them. The newsletter, and the Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) program, is made possible by a partnership between the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and the Pennsylvania Key.
As 2022 comes nearer to a close, life may feel busy and overwhelming. Even the youngest in our programs and families can feel the stress.

In this issue, the IECMH Consultation team shares tips and resources to support mindfulness and peace for everyone, from babies to grownups.

According to helpguide.org, “Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.”

Not every suggestion or technique will work for everyone so use these resources to explore and find what works for you! 
Backed by decades of scientific research, join your teammates and develop a meditation habit that actually sticks with as little as five minutes a day.

The Healthy Minds Program is an easy-to-use guide on your journey to greater well-being. With a combination of podcast-style lessons and both seated and active meditations, you’ll learn what the science says about the brain and practice skills based on these insights to foster a healthier, happier you.

Users of the Healthy Minds @Work Program report burnout symptoms reduced by 25%.

70% reported a clinically significant decrease in depression, anxiety, and stress.

In today’s fast-paced world, stress has become a by-product of life. It’s more important than ever to take a step back and practice mindfulness. Reducing stress and anxiety can contribute to your sense of awareness and improve overall wellbeing.

The Benefits of Mindfulness (video 1:56): When you're being mindful, you are more likely to be present, able to pick up on meaningful cues and understand challenging behavior. Take a deep breath and then help that child work through it in a way that's going to be helpful and meaningful. By staying calm, the more calm everything will go in the classroom.

Rocking and Rolling. Being Present: Mindfulness in Infant and Toddler Settings: It takes practice to pay attention to the here and now. It’s important to keep an open mind and be patient with ourselves when our attention wanders when we experience stress.
Taking Care of Yourself Infographic: The best way to be there for the ones you care about is to first reach inward and be there for yourself. When you are effectively taking care of yourself, you are better able to care for others.
Mindfulness for children is more important than ever before. With all the information and stimulation they encounter on a daily basis, it’s vital for children to learn how to regulate their emotions and stay present. Stories, games and fun activities can help develop these skills.
5 Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness in Early Childhood Education: If you’re looking to add a mindfulness practices to your teaching toolkit, here are a few proven strategies to effectively incorporate it into your learning program.
Mindfulness Activities for Kids: Easily incorporated into any lesson plan, these simple exercises are the perfect way to bring social-emotional learning to busy schedules. Help children relax, reflect, and refocus during moments of stress or classroom chaos with these easy yoga moves!
Nature-Based Mindfulness for More Calm & Peaceful Kids: When children repeatedly consider the needs of others (plants, animals, or other people), they form a mindful, loving mindset that respects all members of the learning community. Try these nature-based mindful activities indoors or outdoors!
Take a Deep Breath Self-Regulation Skills: Breathing Strategies, printable in English or Spanish
Mindfulness practices are a promising way to improve students’ educational experiences and cognitive and social-emotional development which can lead to better academic outcomes.
10 Classroom Mindfulness Activities for Students. These ten mindfulness exercises for students are going to make teaching mindfulness in the classroom fun!
Mindfulness Meditation for Children (video 3:12) A short fun whiteboard animation teaching kids mindfulness meditation. Owl has had a bad day at school and is having angry thoughts and feelings. She uses her observing mind to notice her thoughts, feelings and action urges, so she can calmly choose a wise response to her situation

Just Breathe (video 3:41) In this powerful short film, watch and hear from elementary school students learning to use mindfulness to navigate complex feelings.
Practicing mindfulness at home can improve both mental and physical health in families and children. Learn more about building good social-emotional habits and the benefits of practicing self-care in your everyday life with mindfulness.

Mindful Parenting. Learn and implement mindful parenting. Child Mind Institute helps parents practice mindfulness and reduce stress and anxiety for both parents and kids.

Mindfulness Practices for Families. When parents and children are feeling big emotions, it’s good to find some calm. Simple mindfulness activities can help. 

Help Us Stay Calm Infographic. Strategies that help you and your child during challenging behavior.
IECMH Consultation helps adults strengthen their relationships with young children and build capacity to respond to children’s social-emotional needs. IECMHC can help reduce caregiver stress, as well as increase caregivers’ reflective practice skills.
IECMH Consultants are available by appointment to provide IECMHC Virtual Office Hours consultation via telephone or video conference. IECMHC Virtual Office Hours is a short-term, collaborative, problem-solving conversation to help you find next steps for: Child Social-Emotional Concerns | Child Behavioral or Developmental Concerns Emotional Well-being of Teachers and Caregivers | Partnering with Families.
Appointments are held on the first and third Fridays of the month, or other days/times by request. Get more info.
The Pennsylvania Key has streamlined the process for Keystone STARS programs to request Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC). Child care providers can request services by using the Request for Service Form (PDF). Completed forms can be submitted via email PAIECMH@pakeys.org or faxed to 717-213-3749.
Programs and families can contact the program leadership directly at PAIECMH@pakeys.org with questions or concerns.
Share your feedback! We'd like to hear what you think about infant early childhood mental health. Are there resources you'd like to see? Questions you have? Tell us! Send your feedback to PAIECMH@pakeys.org.