Mental Health - Initiative


Initiative is the ability to use thoughts and actions to meet your needs. Initiative develops when children have caregivers who provide a safe base from which to explore and who trust children’s ability to try new things on their own.

Initiative in infants and toddlers looks like:

  • Exploration of their surroundings through movement, tasting, touching, and looking around,
  • Reaching for familiar adults for play and comfort, and
  • Trying to do things independently.

You can support initiative for infants and toddlers by:

  • Learning and responding to your child’s cues,
  • Playing simple games such as peek-a-boo,
  • Providing a safe space for your child to explore and act on the world around her, and
  • Allowing your child to help you with chores or daily routines such as getting dressed.

Initiative in preschoolers looks like:

  • Trying new things,
  • Sticking with a task, even when it is hard, and
  • Asking lots of questions.

You can support initiative for preschoolers by:

  • Getting involved in your child’s play, asking questions, and following his lead,
  • Supporting your child’s interests,
  • Involving your child in daily tasks such as helping to set the table, and
  • Helping your child think about solutions to problems.

These are just a few of the things you can do to support a child’s initiative. Initiative builds children’s mental health and supports their resilience. 

By Jessica Sims