Welcome to our Double Down on Love hub, where we explore the profound impact caring adults can have on infants, children, and teens' development.
From day one, your child looks to you for love, guidance, and security. Babies' brains are wired for relationships right from birth—growing within supportive, nurturing connections.
The warmth of even one tender, caring relationship establishes the foundation for a lifetime of mental health.
What is Double Down on Love?
Frederick Douglass's timeless wisdom echoes: "It is easier to build strong children than fix broken men.” But do we also ask ourselves, "What does it take to build strong children?” This is the central focus of the Double Down On Love campaign!
The idea for Double Down on Love originated from a conversation with someone working directly with young people, who emphasized the need to "double down on love"...
During our work on The Third ACE Project, young people told our team that they consistently felt unseen. They believed adults were not paying attention to them, not considering the impact of the pandemic on them, and that their community did not love them. An African proverb states, "The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.”
Even one caring adult can ensure the success and happiness of a growing child.
How do you double down on love?
Countless simple and free ways exist: Greet young people when you see them, engage in genuine conversations about their interests and worries, ask about their well-being, and truly listen. Thoughtful texts or affirmations that acknowledge specific positive qualities can counterbalance the negativity they may often hear. The beauty of Double Down On Love lies in the fact that many ways to express love are absolutely free—they only require a bit of time and space in your heart.
Love: A core human need
When we consider the well-being of our young people, we often prioritize external factors like food, shelter, clothing, and education—crucial elements for their physical needs. We seek to protect them from harm. However, what about their internal well-being—their heart, soul, and spirit? Their resilience? Strong early attachments with caring adults correlate with better mental health and fewer behavior challenges. This campaign reminds adults of the greatest need: love.
Dr. Carl C. Bell emphasizes, "Risk factors are not predictive factors because of protective factors." The data indicates that having a caring adult in their life is one of the most effective protective factors for a young person.
How does this work for infants and toddlers?
Infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) focuses on the social-emotional development of children from birth through age 5. IECMH isn’t about putting babies on Sigmund Freud’s couch but rather focuses on the capacity of very young minds to experience emotions, form relationships, and learn. Warm interactions foster confidence, resilience, and communication skills, vital for future problem-solving, stress management, and healthy relationships.
The parent/child relationship quality is crucial during the first years of brain development. The initial three years mark rapid brain development—Babies' brains create 1 million new neural connections every second, laying the foundation for overall well-being. Responsive interactions early in life set the stage for a lifetime of mental health.
Explore the resources below for insights, strategies, and support to nurture your child's optimal mental health during these important early years.
- "Simple ways to show your child you love them" (Parents)
- "Four powerful ways parents can express their love to their kids" (The Lincoln Center for Family & Youth)
- "10 simple ways parents can show love to their teens" (LoveToKnow)
- Josh Shipp: The Power of One Caring Adult (video)
- "The difference between a statistic and a success story is you."
- Risk and Protective Factors (.pdf) (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
- "The science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)" (Number Story)
- "Emotional literacy may be the key element in combating suicide in Black children" (Parents)
- "The Power of Positive Experiences" (video) (Number Story)
- Foundations for Infant Mental Health (InfoAboutKids.org)
- "All of baby’s experiences change their brain’s foundation and can help or hurt its growth."
- Serve and Return Interactions with Babies (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University)
- "Yes, mental health includes babies" (Zero to Three)
- "What does trauma do to a baby's brain?" (Zero to Three)
- Developmental Milestones (CDC)
- "Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving 'bye bye' are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act, and move."
- Early Brain Development and Health (CDC)
- "Dyadic therapy changes lives" (First 5 Center for Children's Policy)
- Relationships and Child Development, Ages 0-5 (raisingchildren.net.au)
- "By building a warm, positive and responsive relationship with your child now, you’re helping to shape the adult your child will become and giving your child a strong foundation for the rest of their life."
- "What is infant mental health?" (video) (Eastern Connecticut State University)
- The Third ACE Project: Youth Mental Health and the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic
- FLX Teens Are Alright: A resource for Finger Lakes teens by Finger Lakes teens that gets real about teenage mental health.
- The Trevor Project: Crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQIA+ youth
- Youth Engaged 4 Change: Empowering you to improve your life and the world around you
- The RULER Approach: A method of helping children develop emotional intelligence by learning to recognize, label, and regulate emotions.
Social Media Toolkit
Below you'll find ready-made images you can share to your networks on social media to share the importance of love in the lives of our youth. Together, let's build a foundation that lasts a lifetime. Together, let's Double Down on Love.
We invite you to use the hashtag #DoubleDownOnLove and to tag Common Ground Health in your posts.
Share these special Valentine's Day messages with the young people in your life.