Social-Emotional Development

Birth To Age 2


  • Quality & Intensity of emotional reactions
  • Passivity- how actively involved a child is with his/her surroundings
  • Irritability- Tendency to feel distressed
  • Activity Patterns- Levels of movement
  • Some infants are quiet, with few movements
  • Some are constantly moving arms and legs


  • Strong emotional connection that develops between people
  • Become attached to the ones that care for them
  • Mothers, Fathers, Caregivers, or Older Siblings
  • When hungry, wet, frightened can depend on these people
  • Separation Anxiety- Child protests because caregiver is leaving
  • 9-18 months is most difficult when starting a Child Care Program
  • Once child becomes more familiar there will show less distress

Changes Over Time

Birth To 2 Years

Birth To 3 Months:

  • General Excitement & Distress are only emotions shown
  • Smiling, Wiggling
  • Distress is shown by crying
  • No tears when child cries

3 To 6 Months

  • Respond to people with Smiles & Laughter
  • When played with, held, or fed they make happy sounds
  • Notice & Smile at other babies
  • Still Cry to show Distress
  • Tears show when crying
  • Use different cries for different signals

6 To 12 Months

  • Actively involved with caregiver
  • Express Happiness, Joy, and Surprise
  • Cry and show Anger when caregivers leave
  • Separation Anxiety shows
  • Develop Fear
  • Make Cry and Push away if taken away from parents
  • After parents leave child will cry but most stop after a few minutes

12 To 24 Months

  • Curious about New Places & Objects
  • Like to play next to other children, but don't interact
  • Start to say "No" because they are self aware
  • Toddlers are Proud & Happy when they can do something on their own
  • Aware of their own abilities
  • Become upset when they assume somethings happening in the future
  • Sometimes they insist on doing things they cant do yet

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