Brightside Up consultants decode infant and young child behavior – Times Union | Wonder Mind Kids

MENANDS – Biting, hitting, throwing things on the ground.

Mental health experts from Brightside Up, a child care facility in the capital region, are on a mission to demystify these infant and young child behaviors and more.

“The downfall of young children is that they are misunderstood,” said Kimberly Polstein, the organization’s director of mental health. “We don’t understand that a toddler’s job and joy is filling that bucket and pouring it out. And to fill the bucket again and pour it out again.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on New York’s already strained childcare industry.

A spate of state and federal childcare subsidies has allowed many day providers to stay afloat and increase hiring by offering higher salaries and signing bonuses, but the socio-emotional impact of the past two years on staff and the Children have made it harder to quantify.

Researchers have begun studying the behavior of a generation of babies and young children born into the pandemic, known as “COVID babies.”

Call Brightside Up at (518) 426-7181 to get involved

According to Rebecca Delgiudice, a mental health consultant at Brightside Up, who runs one-to-one coaching sessions with childcare workers, the year of isolation had a profound impact on young children’s ability to adjust to daycare.

“There’s a lot of separation anxiety, which is pretty typical in some infants and toddlers, but more so because they haven’t had an opportunity to go anywhere,” Delgiudice said.

Brightside Up’s work is part of a two-year-old state Office of Children and Family Services project, made possible with dollars from the American Rescue Plan, that aims to develop a nationwide model for early childhood mental health counseling.

As part of the intensive four- to six-month program, mental health counselors visit daycares of all sizes and provide real-time guidance to staff on skill-building and relationship building with children. The service is offered in virtual, hybrid and face-to-face formats and is free of charge.

When Delgiudice visits a classroom, she says that she is primarily there to support and empower the caregiver so that she can be there for the child and hear their crying. For vendors who buy in, it’s intense, deeply reflective work.

“We don’t change the child, we change the thought process of the adult,” Delgiudice said.

She found that the brain develops fastest in the first three years of life and that relationships during this period are critical to a child’s development and well-being.

“We know that when kids are exposed to toxic stress — when they don’t have those supportive relationships — they’re really at risk of developing serious problems later in life… we always think of that exact opportunity to support the child and the family and.” the community,” said Delgiudice.

Polstein and her team say they are guided by research from Yale University on implicit bias at the preschool level. The study, which tracked preschool teachers’ eye movements, found that teachers tended to watch black boys more closely than other students when anticipating misbehavior.

Researchers have mapped the so-called “preschool-to-prison pipeline” and found the disproportionate suspension and expulsion of black children, especially boys.

In general, 3- and 4-year-olds are three or four times as likely to be expelled from K-12 children, Delgiudice found.

“The relationships we have with adults also shape our self-image. When we get the message that we’re bad, bad, bad and adults can’t handle me, what kind of message is that sending?” she said.

The organization is one of 34 Regional Childcare Resource and Referral Agencies (CCRRs) participating in the program. Currently, 35 mental health counselors serve 19,000 registered child care providers in the state.

The project has already produced some valuable data for psychological counseling of infants and young children. They measure classroom climate using metrics such as positive and negative interactions between adults and young children and the closeness of the adult to the child.

Providers often report a reduction in problematic behaviors after just a few sessions, Delgiudice said.

“From the start, we always tell the adult that we don’t have a magic wand to stop this kid from doing what they’re doing, but I can build your toolkit so you can react differently, and hopefully the kid can too.” She said.

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