Social and Emotional Development in Infancy and Toddlerhood

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Think back to when you were younger, do you remember the different emotions you had? Did you know that you learned a lot of your emotions from your parents or caregivers? Infants and toddlers go through many different stages of emotional development. Starting at birth where they show little to no emotion, up through toddler-hood where their emotions become more defined is a critical stage in there development. Infants begin to develop basic emotions at birth such as happy, sad, fear and anger. As they get older to start to understand and respond to the emotions of others whether it is their parent’s or caregiver. Around toddler-hood children learn about self-conscious emotions and when it is appropriate to feel guilt, shame, pride and envy. Young infants may show signs of emotions even though their emotional life consists of two arousal states, attraction to pleasant stimulation and withdrawal from unpleasant stimulation. As children get older their emotions will become clear, well organized signals, (Laura Berk, Infants and Children Infants pg. 250). Infants are unable to describe their feelings so their facial expressions, body movements and vocalizations are the best reliable cues. Infants will learn their parent’s facial expressions and voice which will lead to the parents understanding of their child’s different emotions. Around 6 months of age the infants face, gaze, voice and body movement are well organized and will vary with different environmental events. An example of an environmental event would be if the caregiver was interacting with a joyful, happy face the baby would respond with laughter and smiles. As infants get older they may stop playing with a toy to show their excitement towards an adult giving them attention, (Laura Berk, Infants and Children Infants pg. 251). After one year you will be able to see the different smiles an infant has. The biggest smile you will see is in response to their parents. If a friendly stranger is around the baby may show a small muted smile. When it comes to emotions children differ than adults in many senses. If a child is upset or angry they will only remain that way for a short period of time, their emotions are short-lived. Emotions in children change fairly quickly, I know that if I give my cousin one of her toys when she is crying she will immediately stop and start laughing and playing. When a toddler or infant is upset you may be able to tell by their physical gestures. They may start kicking, hitting, and throwing things and even bite. Children are not able to hide their emotions as well as adults. Emotions will appear frequently in young children because they don’t have control on their feelings. The smallest thing could excite them and you will see a quick emotional reaction towards that excitement. Every child will have a different behavior even under the same emotion. If a child is scared they may run away or start crying and another child may just hide behind their mother or caregiver. As an infant gets older their emotions get stronger and more intense. It may not be as easy as it was to calm a child down if they are upset or crying, (Jatin Dutta, Essay on Emotional Development in Children, http://www.preservearticles.com 10/02/2012). Happiness is one of the basic emotions that is expressed first by smiles and then by laughter. Happiness binds the parent and baby into a warm, supportive relationship that builds the infants developing competencies. During the first few weeks’ infants smile for a variety of different reasons; after eating, during REM sleep, gentle touches, and hearing the mother’s soft high-pitched voice, (Laura Berk, Infants and Children Infants pg. 251). As infants pay more attention to their parents faces they move their arms and legs excitedly becoming more emotionally positive. Around six and ten weeks the parent’s communication causes a broad grin known as the social smile. Babies learn to use the social smile to promote pleasurable...
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