Mentally Healthy in the Preschool Years
We tend to think of the first few years of a child’s life as a happy time with no worries. We may think of childhood as being free from the cares of this world. Yet, in reality, this often isn’t the case.
Consider the preschoolers in your church. Are there any whose parents have gone through a divorce, the loss of a job, or the loss of a loved one? Traumatic events such as these have an impact on the preschoolers in the family as they feel a sense of loss too.
Mental health challenges can come to anyone at any time in life. Struggles with mental health occur regardless of economic status, race, or education level.
The well-being of preschoolers is sensitive as they do not have the coping skills to deal with stressors, traumatic events, and social situations.
As preschool teachers at church, we have the opportunity to make a positive impact on preschoolers as they grow. This is true in their physical and cognitive development, and especially as we guide them to grow emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
Promote mental health well-being by making your preschool classroom an emotionally healthy place for all preschoolers in your care.
- Greet preschoolers by name.
- Bend down to preschoolers’ eye level when you talk with them.
- Encourage preschoolers to be kind to others and help others.
- Offer preschoolers choices: Do you want to use the red or blue paper for your picture?
- Give opportunities for preschoolers to express their feelings through activities such as drawing, pounding clay, or moving to music.
- Give preschoolers the words to express their emotions: happy, sad, mad, excited, or afraid.
Be aware of preschoolers in your care at church to notice any changes in patterns of behavior and developmental milestones. It is important to keep in mind that signs and symptoms of mental health challenges in preschoolers look a lot different than those in adults.
Keep lines of communication open with parents. Be informed and implement practices that promote growth in mentally healthy ways for preschoolers.
by Joye Smith
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.