Emotional development stages
Babies start to feel basic emotions such as joy, anger, sadness and fear. Later, as kids begin to develop a sense of self, they experience more complex emotions like shyness, surprise, elation, embarrassment, shame, guilt, pride and empathy.
Very young children’s emotions are mainly made up of physical reactions – such as their heart racing or butterflies in their stomach – and behaviour.
As they grow, children develop the ability to recognise feelings. Their emotions are also increasingly inﬂuenced by their thinking. They become more aware of their own feelings and better able to recognise and understand those of other people.
The experience of emotion includes
- physical responses, including heart rate, breathing, hormone levels
- feelings that children recognise and learn to name
- thoughts and judgements associated with feelings
- action signals, such as an urge to approach, escape or ﬁght.
- Many things inﬂuence the ways that children express emotions, both through words and behaviour.
These inﬂuences include:
- values and beliefs about appropriate and inappropriate ways of expressing emotions that children learn from parents and other family members
- how effectively children’s emotional needs are usually met
- children’s temperaments
- emotional behaviours that children have learned through observation or experience
- the extent to which families and children are under various kinds of stress.