Feelings, moods, emotions and behaviours are all inextricably linked. They influence how we function and respond to the demands of day-to-day life. They also help us shape our sense of wellbeing, or our ‘mental health’.
The foundations for mental health are formed within the early infant-parent and caregiver relationships (Centre for Community Child Health, 2009). When the foundations are secure and no major trauma is experienced by the child or the family, the child’s development usually continues on a healthy trajectory. Over time, with the parents’ help to master the developmental challenges of each new age and stage, the child develops a robust capacity to manage life’s pains and disappointments and to embrace life’s joys.
A healthy child enjoys:
exploring the world around them
learning new things
being part of a family
taking part in school and community life
However, there are many ways in which a child’s trajectory toward healthy social and emotional development can be disrupted. When this occurs, all the domains of a child’s development – physical, intellectual/ cognitive, emotional, social and spiritual – can be affected. Early detection and recognition of any developmental disruption is vital for the child and the family.