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Emotional Development

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Emotional Development

By: Casey McQueary

Emotional development occurs throughout life. This development like all forms of development, occurs in stages and is built upon from birth to death. It also can be affected by different aspects of life such as environment, parental input, and interaction with others. During emotional development many obstacles must be overcome, some with assistance and some without.

Emotional development in the early years of a person's life are crucial. Modern research indicates that babies feel and understand more then was previous believed. The emotional development in infancy lays the foundation for how the child will develop throughout life. Infants demonstrate different emotions both positive and negative. Including smiling or laughing to show positive emotions and crying or withdrawing to show negative emotions. Infants need a lot of care and attention and if all their needs are met by a principal caregiver they will develop an attachment, a lifelong bond between infants and their mother or primary caregiver that is formed in the first 6 months of life. Emotional development in infancy occurs in stages changing from sole dependency on the primary caregiver from birth to about 8 months and moves to learned independence from 8 months to 1 year or so. Around age 2 the emotional development occurs quickly leading to mood swings, stubbornness and tantrums which is why this age is frequently referred to as "the terrible twos". Children around this age may experience separation anxiety and wanting things "my way". If a child is given the care and attention they need in this stage of emotional development it helps them develop into an emotionally strong child.

Emotional development in early childhood starts in kindergarten or in a day care setting around ages 3 to 5. When children begin to interact with children of the same age. As children approach their third birthday they begin to socialize with peers and may start to identify with the parent of the same sex. During this stage of emotional development children learn to cooperate with peers. They become competitive and are proud of themselves when they achieve something that is important to them. On the negative side of emotional development, children in this age my develop many different fears such as a fear of the dark.

Once a child reaches the school years around ages 6 to 12. They go through a transition. They start to feel guilty when they do something wrong. They learn about rules and the consequences for breaking set rules. They learn around age 5, to share and keep secrets. At around 7 or 8 they become more aware of their personal thoughts and feelings and will begin to compare themselves with peers. At this stage they may develop feelings of insecurity about their abilities in comparison to those of their peers.

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