Social and Emotional Development

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Child Development:

Social and Emotional Development

Child Development - Social and Emotional Development

Introduction:
As we grow older we change; these changes are most visible during infancy and childhood. From birth, babies grow larger and show noticeable development in both their social and intellectual competence. The study of age-related changes in human behaviour is referred to as developmental psychology. Child development refers to the psychological and biological changes that occur in individuals from birth to adolescence. By understanding child development, psychologists know what to expect in infants and children at each developmental stage, and can therefore establish the limitations in infant’s and children’s growth and achievement.

“It has been said that our emotions make us seem most human” (1). Everyone has emotions, even babies that are only a few days old. Although babies do not appear to have fully developed personalities in their first few days of life, observations show that they actually exhibit quite considerable differences in temperament during this period. Some babies are calm and generally quiet, while others appear to be more ‘fussy’ and are quite active. They demonstrate remarkable emotional behaviours – for example they smile, laugh, cry, show fear, discomfort and excitement, and they form loving attachments. Emotions flood our existence and affect us all the time, and no study of human behaviour, including child behaviour, would be complete without also examining the power and value of our emotions.

Social and emotional development defined:
Social development refers to the development of interaction between individuals and the surrounding human world, including relationships [pic] with others and also the social skills needed to fit into our culture and society. Social development can also be defined as the ability to behave in a manner that allows the individual to be accepted by both their peers and society as a whole. “Emotional development encompasses the feelings that we have about ourselves and others, as well as our capabilities to function well in the world from a social standpoint” (2). In children, emotional development refers to the attainment of emotional capabilities and their expansion as the child grows. These capabilities enable children to have feelings about what they do and also about others. As babies and children mature, their emotional capabilities expand, allowing them to develop a variety of skills that they will need in their adult lives. There are many different stages in the development of a child’s emotions and the child learns a new type of emotion at each stage. Social emotional development is the combination of learning discretion, openness and honesty in interacting with individuals (or groups) in a way that contributes positively to members of society. The social aspect relates specifically to interactions with people, whereas the emotional aspect relates to understanding and appropriately controlling one's emotions. “A proper combination and coordination of social and emotional development is critical to leading a purposeful, fulfilling life” (3).

The current and future social functioning of a child will be largely effected by their social and emotional development, as will their educational and career accomplishments. This is due to the fact that strong social and emotional development, when encouraged and promoted at a young age, will help children settle well in school, behave suitably, and work cooperatively and independently, showing high confidence. Conversely, children whose social and emotional development is slow or stunted will sometimes exhibit difficulty in forming relationships, and are at risk of encountering academic difficulties or later developing physical or mental health problems. This is why it is so important for parents/guardians/caregivers to understand and fulfill children’s emotional needs at a...
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