1st Edition

Supporting Children with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs in the Early Years Practical Solutions and Strategies for Every Setting

By Sonia Mainstone-Cotton Copyright 2021
    202 Pages
    by Speechmark

    202 Pages
    by Speechmark

    This accessible book offers essential guidance and practical ideas for Early Years staff to support children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs. It draws upon a wealth of experiences and insights to explore what SEMH is, why children may have SEMH needs, and what this can look like, giving practitioners the confidence they need to understand early signals and signs.

    Chapters share practical tools, activities and strategies, exploring topics that include:

    • environment
    • routines and transitions
    • sensory experiences
    • feelings and emotions
    • the role of the adult.

    A range of case studies and resource suggestions are woven throughout, bringing the theory alive with first-hand advice from a variety of professionals, including educational psychologists, play therapists and Forest School specialists. This book is a refreshing and practical guide, and an essential read for all Early Years practitioners looking to cultivate a supportive and compassionate environment.


    Section One

    Chapter One Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs in Children, Part One: Exploring Trauma, ACEs and the Impact of Stress on the Body

    Chapter Two Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs in Children, Part Two: Exploring these Needs in Further Detail

    Chapter Three Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs in Children, Part Three: Exploring Domestic Violence, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, Parental Mental Illness and Children who are Fostered or Adopted

    Chapter Four The Role of the Adult

    Section Two

    Chapter Five Environment

    Chapter Six Routines and Transitions

    Chapter Seven Recognising Feelings and Emotions

    Chapter Eight Sensory Experiences

    Chapter Nine Outdoors

    Chapter Ten Mindfulness

    Chapter Eleven Working with Parents

    Chapter Twelve Wellbeing of Adults



    Sonia Mainstone-Cotton is a freelance nurture consultant. She currently works in a specialist team supporting 3- and 4-year-olds who have social, emotional and mental health needs. Sonia also trains staff across the country, working with children’s centres, schools, nursery, charities and churches.

    "This book is much needed within the early years' sector and addresses our potential positive impact when supporting young children's social, emotional, and mental health (SEMH). As a relatively new term in inclusion, Sonia introduces key theoretical concepts in an accessible and sensitive manner and links pedagogy with practice. This book opens up opportunities for practitioners to take proactive and positive steps to support children in managing their social and emotional experiences and encourages us to also "take a moment" to reflect and decide upon the best approaches for increasing overall well-being within our early years environments. 

    One of the most significant aspects of Sonia's book is that she expertly outlines the interaction between adult and child and how our own wellbeing must be nurtured before we are in the powerful position of nurturing others. She addresses crucial but challenging topics such as adverse childhood experiences and recognises the importance of a holistic approach to shifting the culture and practice of well-being and well-doing. She navigates us through these topics with compassion and care, and the book provides a hopeful and achievable way to develop our skills and knowledge. 

    This book feels like a much-needed toolkit for anyone working with young children, and through Sonia's extensive knowledge, signposting and interviews with other professionals, there are plenty of tangible ideas to be put straight into action." - Kerry Payne, Early Childhood SEND Specialist

    "Sonia’s expertise as a nurture worker translates itself onto every page and welcomes you into a safe and trusted place to explore a much needed topic on children's social emotional and mental health in the early years. 

    This book leads with empathy and is woven into the practical ideas and information designed to support early years practitioners support our very youngest children who need the most amount of care, patience and understanding.

    This book is exactly what we have come to expect from Sonia who is leading and guiding the sector when it comes to emotional wellbeing - it is a must read and one that should be on the book shelf of every early years setting!" - Kate Moxley, Early Years Consultant


    "In this unique and outstanding book, Sonia Mainstone-Cotton provides an empathic insight into some very difficult areas of children’s physical and mental health. Her thoughtful and reflective narrative, straight from the heart, ensures that the children’s wellbeing is always paramount. The practical chapters provide constructive help for all types of settings and circumstances, making it an easy to use reference book for everyone. A much-needed and beautifully written book." - Kathy Brodie, author and Early Years consultant