A Look at Why Relationships Matter for our Little Ones

Community EngagementBlog

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IRC’s Early Start team is taking part in a campaign called Take a Minute, Relationships Matter aimed at helping parents and young children create strong bonds. The parent-child relationship is the most crucial and influential relationship in a child’s life and has the greatest impact on a child’s social-emotional development.

So, what exactly is social-emotional development? And why is it so important? These are both fantastic questions with fascinating answers. Lucky for this blogger, the California Department of Education is chock-full of awesome resources and information on the subject!

“Social-emotional development includes the child’s experience, expression, and management of emotions and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others. Responsive caregiving supports infants in beginning to regulate their emotions and to develop a sense of predictability, safety, and responsiveness in their social environments. In other words, high-quality relationships increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for young children. Emotion and cognition work together, jointly informing the child’s impressions of situations and influencing behavior. Young children who exhibit healthy social, emotional, and behavioral adjustment are more likely to have good academic performance in elementary school.”

Edyth Gallardo, Early Start Program Manager for IRC also had some valuable insight to share about the role parents (and caregivers) play in their child’s development, and why “little” moments matter. “Social and emotional development is the foundation for all other learning and development through life.  This is true for all children, including those with disabilities and delays.  All families can help their children learn how to make friends, show strong emotions in healthy ways, and handle conflicts peacefully.  A parent’s relationship with their children matters because positive relationships between them can change the children’s brains for the better.  Every single day, everywhere they are, positive parent/child interactions help strengthen the bond, giving children what they need to learn and grow.”

Long story short: relationships matter! Strong relationships between children and their caregivers allow them a safe space to learn, grow, and develop. And research has strongly linked social-emotional development to cognitive areas such as information processing, language, perception, and much more!

So yes, relationships matter! But how do we make sure that our kiddos are making those social-emotional connections? Well, this is where the Take a Minute, Relationships Matter campaign comes into play. The campaign has created helpful materials to provide information and tips to both parents and service providers.

Tips for parents include advice on:

  • how to recognize a child’s emotions
  • how to show a child they are loved
  • how to help a child/baby calm down

Tips for service providers include:

  • providing emotional support and encouragement to parents
  • using items found in family home instead of toys during interactions
  • work within the natural routines and activities of the family

Parents and service providers can access tip sheets and a helpful video from the California Early Start website.


IRC’s Early Start team works with infants and toddlers, under age 3, with a developmental delay or disability, or who are at risk for a developmental delay.  Our Early Start professionals help coordinate early intervention services based on the child’s assessments, needs, and family concern. To learn more about California’s Early Start program, established through federal and state law, please visit the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) online.


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Community Engagement

Inland Regional Center's Community Engagement Unit can be reached at [email protected]

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