Building Blocks for a Healthy Future (Building Blocks) is an early childhood initiative created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its purpose is to help parents, caregivers, and educators teach children ages 3 to 6 the good behaviors and social skills that can promote their mental health and help reduce their risk of substance abuse as they grow older.
SAMHSA’s Building Blocks initiative provides evidence-based information based on six protective steps that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and SAMHSA identified through substance abuse prevention research. These steps are for adults to:
- Establish and maintain good communication with children;
- Get involved and stay involved in their lives;
- Make clear rules and enforce them consistently;
- Be a positive role model;
- Teach children to choose friends wisely; and
- Monitor the activities of children.
Adults who follow these steps with their children at home and at school are helping to develop self-confident children who can make positive choices to stay physically and mentally healthy as well as drug-free.
On this site:
- The Family section offer tips for parents on how to build the six protective steps into their daily activities, with fun learning activities for parents and children to enjoy together. According to NIDA (PDF 725KB), parental involvement in a child’s life is critical to substance abuse prevention.
- The Educators section provides coordinated lesson plans and suggested classroom activities that can help increase a young child’s social skills and readiness to learn.
- The Children section includes games and songs that engage children in learning about themselves and their ever-expanding world. Games are an excellent way for children to learn how to share, be patient, and win or lose gracefully—all skills that prepare them for healthy relationships.