“Are experiences in the early years uniquely important?” this has been a longstanding controversy in psychology. Are the first 3 years more important or just like any other 3 year period? Is it ever too late for early adverse experiences to be overcome? Timing of interventions may yield insights that have clinical, research and policy implications.
The brain is constructed over time and experiences have powerful effects on structures and functions. Relationships are the “active ingredients” of early experiences. Relationships based interventions provide opportunities for prevention of adverse outcomes and treatment of distress and disability.
Primary care giving relationships are the most important predictor of psychological and social outcomes in young children. All care giving relationships matter. Caregivers will help support the mental health of young children when they: provide sensitive and responsive care, know and value child as an individual, place needs of the child ahead of their own needs.
Dr. Charles Zeanah (Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Tulane University) presented “When is it too late: Intervening after early adversity” at RIAIMH’s conference in 2012. Clinical perspectives, brain development in early childhood, Sensitive periods in Brain and behavioral Development, Research Perspectives on Early Experience, and Policy perspectives on Early Experiences were covered in this talk. Download the presentation here.