Feb 2024 preschool project help
Missions Discipleship

Actions that Influence Positive Mental Health in Preschoolers

Mental health in preschoolers is a hot topic. Given post–COVID-19 dynamics, we are more aware that solid mental well-being at all ages is vital. Years of scientific research have taught us that not only do significant mental health problems occur in preschoolers, but that intervention is the key to solidifying positive mental health.¹

So how do we influence preschoolers’ mental health?

First, we must be aware that mental health needs are as important to preschoolers as they are to adults. Be mindful that relationships and environments affect them just as much as they affect adults. Positive relationships and environments beget positive mental health. Negative relationships and environments beget negative mental health.

Second, we must be willing to do things that support positive preschool mental health. We must place ourselves in their worlds, see through their eyes, and provide supports right where they are. This will mean being on the floor with preschoolers, getting messy with them, and playing the same things over and over again so as to have opportunities to support preschoolers and speak into their lives.

Our best avenue to serve these precious blessings is to develop a personal relationship with them. “When relationships are reliably responsive and supportive, they can actually buffer young children from the adverse effects of other stressors.”²

In other words, be that friend — the one who is understanding and makes people feel valued. This helps solidify a basis for positive mental health.

Leader Actions that Influence Positive Mental Health in Preschoolers

    • Seek out preschoolers in various settings outside of the Mission Friends classroom. Call preschoolers by name when you see them, ask them about things that interest them, and really listen to their responses.
    • Place yourself at preschoolers’ level so they know that your focus in on them. Squat down when you talk with them or sit on the floor with them and play what they are playing.
    • Get to know preschoolers’ likes and dislikes, then plan accordingly. For example, preschoolers may enjoy the way things feel, so plan tactile activities including play dough or building blocks so this need is met.
    • Accept and love preschoolers where they are. Unconditional love and acceptance are more powerful than any five-step technique or program. When a child feels loved and accepted, he has a steady foundation on which to build and grow. Be that person in their lives.

Remember Jesus’ response to little children in Mark 10:13–16. He wanted to be with them. He blessed them. He didn’t require them be adults but told the adults that “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (v. 15 NIV).

While we think we are their teachers, they really are ours. So be with preschoolers and positively influence their mental health.

by Gina Smith

  1. “InBrief: Early Childhood Mental Health,” Center on the Developing Child, accessed January 24, 2024, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/inbrief-early-childhood-mental-health/.
  2. “Early Childhood Mental Health,” Center on the Developing Child, accessed January 24, 2024, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/deep-dives/mental-health/.

Disclaimer: The information shared on this page is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.