In detail

Emotional development in childhood

Emotional development in childhood

Emotions accompany us in our day to day being the fundamental support of our relationships and knowledge of ourselves. Knowing how emotional development is carried out in the first years of our life is essential to understand and educate children in their well-being. Let's talk about it.

What is emotional development?

Emotional development is a complex concept that involves a large number of aspects such as the emergence of emotions, their expression, awareness and regulation both in others and in ourselves. Further, This process is in turn linked to both cognitive and social development feeding each other with great force, along with the development of language.

If we ask parents if their babies experience emotions they will surely give us an affirmative answer, there is no doubt. But How does the process of emotional development really occur in children?

Children experience sensations linked to elementary and primitive aspects from birth. So that the world of the newborn is based on very primary emotional parameters based on their needs and basic actions. Only with the passage of time and thanks to the interaction with the environment can we shape the great emotional range we all have.

Although it has not yet been established exactly what are the exact moments when different types of emotions appear, everything seems to indicate that it's 10 months when children show the full range of basic emotions commonly known: joy, fear, sadness, anger, surprise and disgust, which progressively develop according to their brain maturation. However, it should be noted that this may vary depending on the appearance of special circumstances according to the researchers.

In addition, at the level of emotional expression although it is true that babies show different types of facial expressions such as interest, disgust or discomfort, these do not have to be appropriate to the situation or stimulus that causes them. But it is important to highlight the communication value they entail, standing out as signals that regulate the behaviors of attachment figures to meet children's needs. For example, crying in addition to expressing discomfort attracts parents to feed the baby, keep him company or try to eliminate the cause of his pain.

It is not until 2 months when babies learn to differentiate emotional expressions, although they do not necessarily respond to the emotional meaning you are. However, between the fourth and seventh months, they are already able to associate it.

Thus, with growth, emotions are socialized, while their expression is enhanced and more complex emotions such as pride at 24 months or guilt and envy between 3 and 4 years are emerging.

The symbolic game stage

One of the most important events related to emotional development is when Children acquire the ability to play symbolically around 2 years, since it is when they learn to represent both their own emotional states and those of others. I mean the boy He is already able to understand that the other is different from himself and can begin to put himself in his place being the support for the development of empathy capacity.

The attachment bond

Children present from their birth the need to be emotionally sustained for others and as a result, we find their innate predisposition for the construction of the bond of attachment. The link between the baby and the caregiver through which to feel safe and protected when it occurs in a healthy way, free from rejection and ambivalent behavior.

In addition, as López (1997) states It is the attachment relationship that provides the opportunities to begin to empathize, since it is configured as the privileged context where babies can learn to express, interpret and share emotions through different interactions with their primary caregiver and that will influence the establishment of future relationships.

The importance of emotional education

But it is not only important to know what the emotional development process is like, but also how we can contribute to improving it to make it easier for children to manage their own emotions and to become emotionally literate adults in the future.

At present, the resurgence of research on emotions has allowed us to deepen their development and functionality to offer new perspectives in the educational field, one of them being emotional education.

This revolutionary new discipline is defined by Rafael Bisquerra as "an educational process, continuous and permanent, which aims to enhance the development of emotional competencies as an essential element of human development, in order to empower you for life and in order to increase personal and social well-being".

Its application is very varied and adapts to all ages, following a practical methodology for example through play in the case of children and with themes aimed at promoting emotional skills such as emotional intelligence, the identification and management of emotions in oneself and others, among others.

So, emotional education emerges as Bisquerra affirms an education for life with the aim of enabling greater emotional well-being that results in greater social well-being.

Bibliographic references

  • Bisquerra, R. (2000). Emotional education and well-being. Barcelona: Praxis.
  • Bisquerra, R. (2009). Psychopedagogy of emotions. Madrid: Synthesis.
  • López, F., Etxebarría, I., Fuentes, M.J., Ortiz, M. J. (Cood.) (1999) Affective and social development. Madrid: Pyramid.