Social-Emotional Development

  • Support Your Child's Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health

    Social, emotional and behavioral health begins at birth and lays a foundation for children to:

    • Manage emotions
    • Have positive relationships
    • Resolve conflicts
    • Peacefully take care of others

    Children begin learning these skills from birth as they build attachments and trust with caregivers,learn how to calm themselves down, and later, to recognize emotions.

    Just like other skills, children develop social and emotional abilities gradually – and they need plenty of support from adults as they learn.

    Nurturing our children’s social and emotional needs from birth helps ensure they will have good mental health throughout their lives.

    We all have mental health – even babies! And just as physical health enables us to have the energy we need to work and live our lives, mental health allows us to have positive relationships with others, cope with life’s challenges, and manage our emotions.

    Just as we take care of our children’s physical health – with healthy food, plenty of sleep and regular check-ups – we must also take care of their mental health by supporting their social-emotional development.

    But How?
    Loving relationships with you and other adults are the foundation of children’s healthy social-emotional development.

    Positive relationships help children feel secure and encouraged. Through relationships we can teach children to understand and express their feelings, develop compassion for other people, and learn the difference between right and wrong. These social and emotional skills prepare children for success in school and throughout their lives.

    Try these tips to support your child's social-emotional development from birth to age 8:

  • Early Childhood Mental Health Specialists Program

    Colorado Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants are a part of a free program that helps parents and caregivers create nurturing environments and relationships that support mental health and well-being.

    The goal of the program is to help adults support children’s social-emotional development and to identify early in a child’s life any concerns that could lead to greater challenges in the future. 

    Benefits of the ECMH Specialists program: 

    • Fewer incidents of challenging behaviors 
    • Reduced stress for parents 
    • Improved school readiness for children 
    • Increased resiliency for children 
    • Stronger relationships between children and parents

    Some children have a harder time than others managing their feelings. You may be concerned if your child has difficulty… 

    • Making friends and getting along with others
    • Participating in and enjoying daily activities 
    • Managing “big” feelings that lead to behaviors like hitting, biting or withdrawal
    • Getting easily mad or frustrated or feeling sad much of the time 
    • Adjusting to changes at home or in child care 

    The Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) Specialists program can help. 

    The ECMH Specialists program is a free and confidential resource that supports children’s social and emotional development age 0-8. ECMH Specialists are experts in early childhood development and mental health. They work with parents on-site at the child’s child care program or another convenient location.

      The ECMH Specialists also make referrals for additional resources, including mental health counseling. ECMH Specialists can also provide support when a child is at risk of expulsion or disenrollment from a child care program. 

      To learn more about ECMH Specialists or to request a consultation, please contact:
      The Office of Early Childhood at 303.866.5948 or 1.800.799.5876 and request to speak to the Early Childhood Mental Health Specialists Program Manager. You may also email Alison Hargarten at

    • Resources
      If you are concerned about your child, talk to your pediatrician, child care provider or other early childhood professional. There are resources in our community to support you. 

      These links provide additional expert information about social-emotional development in the early years.  

      Early Learning & Development Guidelines: Activities, ideas and videos to help you support all aspects of a child’s healthy development. 

      ZERO TO THREE: Tips to support social-emotional development from a renown, national early childhood resource. 

      Infant Toddler Temperament Tool: Understanding a child’s natural temperament can help parents better support children’s social-emotional health. 

      Early Intervention Colorado: Supportive services for young children with developmental delays or disabilities and their families. 

      Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 24/7 hotline to report child abuse, neglect or concerns about the safety of children.