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Emotional Development - Emotional Development In Infancy And Toddlerhood

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 3Emotional Development - Emotional Development In Infancy And Toddlerhood, Emotions And Early Relationships, Emotional Development During Adolescence, Summary - Emotional Development during Childhood

Emotional Development in Infancy and Toddlerhood

There is a fair amount of consensus that distress, pleasure, anger, fear, and interest are among the earliest emotions experienced by infants, although exactly when these emotions appear is still debated. As infants develop, emotions become more differentiated. For example, the earliest smiles are reflexive and often occur during sleep. By six months, smiling is more sophisticated and social. It increasingly results from the interactions between infants and their caregivers. Crying is another powerful emotional behavior that is present in early development and is an effective tool for communicating with the social world. Children cry more during infancy than at any other period and their cries differ in their patterns depending on whether they are in pain, hungry, or angry.

Infants also have strategies for regulating their emotions. Research by Sarah Mangelsdorf and her colleagues indicates that from six to eighteen months, infants' emotional regulation strategies change. Although gaze aversion and sucking characterize younger infants' responses to a distressing situation, older infants are better able to engage in self-soothing or distract themselves.

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