August 8, 2018

Health and Wellness Through the Life Span—Babies and Toddlers: Forming Secure Early Relationships

by Charity Shumway

What’s the most important relationship you’ll ever have? A best friend? A spouse? Maybe a mentor? None of the above. For the right answer, look all the way back to your very first caregiver.

“We now know that during the first few years of life, from ages zero to five, brain development is at its most rapid and crucial phase,” said Marcy Safyer, Ph.D., former director of Adelphi’s Institute for Parenting and former co-director of Adelphi’s Infant Mental Health-Developmental Practice master’s degree program.

During those early years, Dr. Safyer said, a child builds the critical foundation and capabilities for all subsequent development, and a secure attachment to a primary caregiver is at the heart of all that growth. “When there’s trauma in the context of a parent-child relationship—for example, in cases of maltreatment—it has devastating developmental consequences.”

That’s where Adelphi’s Institute for Parenting comes in. The institute is at the forefront of advancing the field of infant mental health through research, training and education, and also through providing direct service.

The institute’s staff clinicians see families who are involved in the child welfare system, criminal justice system or from the general community where there might be domestic violence in a family or a child is struggling to keep up developmentally.

“We focus on strengthening relationships and the quality of attachment between infants and toddlers and their parents,” Dr. Safyer said. “Our goal is to help children feel loved and worthwhile and help them start school ready to learn and make friends.”

This story is part of “Health and Wellness Through the Life Span,” from the 2018 issue of Adelphi University Magazine. Read the rest of the story here:

Before Birth: The Best Possible Start

Early Childhood: A Low-Tech Approach

Elementary School: Fun, Games and Fitness

Teens: The Right Way to Discuss Suicide

Middle Adulthood: Becoming a Caregiver

Late Adulthood: Getting the Right Nursing Care

Finding the Words to Reckon With Loss

All Ages: Healing Body, Mind and Soul

Improving Health in Costa Rica and Guatemala

More Adelphi News

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Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

Recognized as a Best College by U.S. News & World Report, Adelphi is Long Island’s oldest private coeducational university. It serves almost 8,000 students at its beautiful main campus in Garden City, New York—just 23 miles from New York City’s cultural and internship opportunities—and at dynamic learning hubs in Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Suffolk County, as well as online. 

More than 116,000 Adelphi graduates have gained the skills to thrive professionally as active, engaged citizens, making their mark on the University, their communities and the world.

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