Understanding Early Social and Emotional Development Using an Infant Mental Health Lens

Using an infant mental health framework deepens our understanding of the social and emotional development of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers within their circles of care. In this course, learn how early experiences – positive, stressful, and traumatic – may impact social and emotional development at different ages and over time. Learn to use an infant mental health framework in observations and your professional work with young children and families.

Note: Take this course as a stand-alone course or apply it to the Supporting Early Social and Emotional Development Credential.

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Earn 84 clock hours

This course will be scheduled again soon.

Learning objectives

  • Understand the social and emotional developmental needs of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
  • Understand the role relationships play in a young child’s development with a special focus on attachment theory.
  • Gain an understanding of the different kinds of stress a young child may experience.
  • Learn how different kinds of stress may impact development and how we can help children build resilience in the face of stress.
  • Become familiar with and able to describe ways to apply an infant mental health framework in professional work.
  • Learn to use an infant mental health framework in observations of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Who should register

  • Early childhood educators
  • Special education educators and practitioners
  • Social workers
  • Nurses
  • Pediatricians
  • Home visitors
  • Others working with young children ages birth to five

What to expect

  • The course is instructor-led with feedback and interactions provided.
  • All activities and assignments for this course are asynchronous and online. Nothing takes place in real time.
  • You have access to the course site 24/7 and can fit your work on the course into your schedule.
  • Activities and assignments include readings, videos, discussion board, recording videos using an online tool called FlipGrid, and reflection papers.
  • You are expected to participate fully and abide by weekly submission due dates for assignments and activities.

Knowledge and competency areas

The early childhood competencies are those used by MN – ACHIEVE’s knowledge and competencies framework.

  • Child development and learning
  • Promoting cognitive development
  • Promoting social and emotional development
  • Relationships with families
  • Observing, recording, and assessing development
  • Assessing and using information to plan

Meet the instructors

Alyssa Meuwissen

Alyssa Meuwissen, PhD, is a Research Associate at the Center for Early Education and Development. She is the Research Coordinator for the Reflective Practice Center @ CEED. She and specializes in supporting adults who support children. Her work focuses on supporting professionals through reflective supervision/consultation, as well as supporting parents in promoting the development of children’s cognitive skills and self-regulation. She has taught developmental psychology classes at the University of Minnesota and Augsburg University.

Kristin IrrerKristin Irrer

Mrs. Irrer has been working in the field of child development for over twenty years, supporting infants, young children and their families in a variety of prevention and intervention settings. Her professional areas of interest are in expanding capacity for those in administrative roles to experience reflective supervision and exploring ways to embed RS/C into systems that support infants and toddlers. In her current role she offers training and guidance to a multi-disciplinary workforce as they grow in their reflective capacities and view their work from an Infant Mental Health informed lens. Along with teaching for the Infant Mental Health Certificate program, Kristin provides reflective supervision/consultation to a diverse group of professionals working in the infant family field including those in child welfare, early intervention, home visiting, early childhood mental health, coaching, and administrative roles. She holds a masters degree in child development with specializations in infancy and administration from the Erikson Institute. Kristin is currently the IECMH Endorsement® Coordinator for the State of Colorado and is endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Specialist, IMH-E®.

Required textbook

Landy, S. (2009). Pathways to Competence: Encouraging Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children, 2nd Edition. Brookes Publishing Co: Baltimore, MD.

Cancellation Policy

  • Cancellation before Day 1 of the session: Full refund less $35 administrative fee
  • Cancellation Day 1 Week 1 through Day 1 Week 2: 75% refund less $35 administrative fee
  • Cancellation Day 2 Week 2 forward: No refund will be provided.

To cancel, send an email to Karen Anderson at ander352@umn.edu.

CEED reserves the right to refuse/cancel a registration due to low enrollment, a prerequisite not completed, or other circumstances making the registration nonviable. In the event of a course cancellation, registrants have the option to receive a full refund OR to transfer the registration to the same course held in a future session. CEED will accept substitutions for attendees.


Contact Karen Anderson, online course manager, at ander352@umn.edu.

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