Emotional development depends on the nature of situations or stimuli your baby is subjected to.The interaction style of the parent with the child has a significant role in this regard. A child shown much loving care and attention by the parent shows adequate emotional development. If the parents are themselves a source of stimulus of fear, then the child's emotional development will be affected. As the child grows up, relationship with same age-group children, school atmosphere and other environmental factors influence the emotional development. Here's a timeline of when babies exhibit certain emotions
How does a child express his emotions?
The infant's emotional development starts with crying since the time of his birth. Newborns cry in order to communicate their need. At birth, infants are quiet when full and cry when hungry. The crying differs based on the different needs. Next the emotion of smiling appears. Smiling is of two kinds - the one which appears in the first month is involuntary and not in response to an external stimulus, the second one which appears by two months is in response to an external stimulus like a familiar face, mostly the mother's face. Early emotional expressions are similar among all infants. As they mature more complex emotions begin to develop. Once the parents know about the basic needs of their infants,they can understand their emotional expressions.
By about 3 months they begin to talk with coos and goos and by imitating sounds of their care-takers. This shows the emotion of happiness. Anger and distress too are shown out at this stage.
At about 6 to 12 months, more complex emotions like fear for strangers and fear of being left alone are expressed. At the same time they express joy on social interaction with parents and familiar people.
Negative emotions like anger and distress are expressed more between 12 to 18 months, but these subside with development of language. A feeling of empathy is shown by 18 months - a feeling related to the feeling others are experiencing.for e.g when a sibling cries or is sad, the baby shows out the same feeling.
Around 18 to 24 months, toddlers are self conscious and develop emotions like shame, pride and embarrasment.
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Emotions are revealed through facial expressions and modulation of voice tones. During infancy stage, expression of emotions is done in a forceful way and it occurs without any external cause. They express it in the form of crying and shouting. During the first two months of infant stage, the baby shows only two emotions -- pleasure and displeasure caused by physical stimulation. The baby shows out these emotions through body movements like relaxing the body to show pleasure and tensing the body with waving arms and kicking legs while crying to show displeasure.
By third month physical stimulation combined with psychological stimulation allows the baby to express the emotion of pleasure with a smile when he comes in contact with a human face and expressing displeasure with facial expressions and crying. During childhood, expression is no more forceful but is through reasonable means. This is due to factors of language development and also development of social behaviour, which enables the child to understand that it is not proper to show emotions at all times. The development of her mind puts a check on emotional outbursts. Some common emotions a child expresses are happiness, anger, sadness, fear, love, empathy and sympathy.Let us see how these emotions are expressed.
Happiness is expressed by the baby with fully enjoying smiles to start with, and later with lively or prolific laughter. The baby smiles and laughs on attaining new skills or on overcoming an obstacle to reach a goal. He also shows happiness at the affection and stimulation of the care-givers. During the early weeks, baby smiles when full, to gentle touches and sounds. By the end of first month, he smiles at something, say a bright object that comes across his field of vision. Social interaction begins by 3 months when baby smiles on coming into contact with familiar people, Laughter begins around 3 to 4 months when the parent is playful with the baby. Around 6 months baby smiles and laughs more on contact with familiar people. Around 10 to 12 months baby's smile differs with context like a broad cheek raised smile in response to a parent's greeting, a reserved smile to a friendly stranger and a mouth-open smile while engaged in stimulating play. The baby is socially well developed when he is 2 years old and his emotional expressions become intentional or purposeful. He is delighted to respond to an adult attending to him amidst his play with an interesting toy.
Anger is expressed by newborn babies when they are hungry, find any inconvenience in body condition like change in temperature and when he faces overstimulaion or too little stimulation. The frequency and intensity of anger increases from 4 to 6 months into the second year. They express this emotion in specific situations like when an interesting object they are playing with is removed from them or when their goal is blocked by an obstacle or when the care-giver leaves the place for a brief time or when a toy he is playing with stops functioning. Anger is intense when the baby does not receive the expected warm behaviour from the care-giver. Anger is expressed in the form of outburst of bad temper - the baby may hit, kick, cry and scream.
Sadness is also expressed in the same situations as that which causes anger. But this emotion is expressed much less frequently than anger.
Infants around 6 to 12 months express this emotion. They express fear for an animal, when left alone, when they meet a stranger, go to strange places and when they hear a sudden loud noise. Fear is expressed by crying. Infants of this age-period show reluctance to play with a new toy due to fear. Those who have just started to crawl show greater fear. Rise in this kind of fear after six months comes as a hurdle in the way of exploratory behaviour of crawling and walking babies. Most infants and toddlers, though do not express their fear when they get to interact with strangers. They are still cautious of strangers, though. The baby cries out of fear when picked up by an unfamiliar adult in a strange setting. This fear can be reduced by the way of approach of the stranger who picks up the baby. He has to approach slowly, presenting the baby with an attractive toy or playing an interesting game the baby is familiar with.
These emotions are expressed by the baby mostly to the intimate care-giver, the mother of the baby. When the baby sees the mother in his room he gives out a broad friendly smile. When picked up he pats her face, puts his gentle tiny hand into her hair and clings close to her body. Sympathy is expressed by the baby through facial expressions which the baby learns from the mother's reaction to a situation.
Empathy is an emotion caused by observing and recognising what is happening to others - feeling bad because someone else is feeling bad.
Your baby's initial social behaviour is regulated by the reaction of others, an older infant or an adult, to his emotional signals like smiling, crying, etc. Social interaction between an infant and mother begins by 3 months. There is a well developed communication system existing betweem the two. In this communication system, each of them respond to one another's emotional cues carefully. An infant tries to get the attention of an unresponsive parent through various means like facial expression, making some sounds and body movements to get her to respond. With progress of age, emotional expressions of the infant through which he communicates become intentional. He closely observes the emotional expressions of others to assess his own intentions and ideas. Usually the mother initiates all positive emotional exchanges with the infant, but it is in the reverse when the infant is 9 months old - the infant initiates smiling before the mother smiles.
By the end of first year, infants are so skilled that they are able to pick up both verbal and emotional information. Older infants look for the assistance of the care-giver to know how to respond to unfamiliar people or objects. This is called Social referencing. This kind of referencing helps development of social behaviour in young children. Infants become attached to people who are familiar to them and who respond to their needs. A child gets attached more emotionally to his mother than anyone else. This emotional attachment forms the basis for all future relationships. When a child is reared with affection being showered on him, he develops a good, healthy relationship with other individuals.