Emotional Development

Emotions are natural instincts. The child experiences these emotions from early stages of his life. Emotions include physical as well as mental processes. Love, jealousy, anger, fear, disgust and rivalry are various emotions.

According to Bridges, in the beginning only “.ding of general excitement is found in babies when the baby is three months-old feelings of distress and delight emerge when the baby feels pain he cries, when he is happy he smiles, throws his arms and legs in the air and makes joyous sounds when the child become six months-old, emotions of anger, fear and disgust are also developed.

One years-old shows the emotions of elation and affection towards adults. At the age of eighteen months the baby shows affection towards children and sometimes feeling of jealousy also. By the time baby turns two he shows emotion of joy also.


1. Emotions of children are short-lived

Children’s emotions quickly finish. Their emotions remain for the short time while emotions of adults remain for the long time.

2. Emotions of children change quickly

When the baby cries due to any reason at one moment, and next moment he may start laughing on getting some toy.


3. Emotions of children are intense

Whether the issue is trifle, children experience intense emotions, e.g., the child feels intensely grieved on losing a toy or not getting food when hungry.

4. Children show their physical gesture freely during emotional state

The child cannot hide his emotions like adults. He shows them freely.


5. Emotions of children appear frequently

The children don’t have control on their feelings; as a result their emotions appear frequently and quickly. They get excited on petty matters and show their emotional behaviors.

6. Individual differences are found in children’s emotional behaviour

Children show different behaviors under the same emotion, e.g., some children when experience fear, hide themselves behind their mother whereas some will run away or start crying in anger, some children start shouting and crying, whereas some show temper tantrums and destructive behaviour.


7. Intensity of children’s emotions changes with age

As the child grows, his emotional intensity also changes. Some emotions are subdued whereas some get intensified.

8. Some of the characteristics of children’s emotions are quite apparent

Certain characteristics like showing temper tantrums, nail biting, thumb sucking, restlessness, obstinacy and crying are quite apparent during disturbed emotional state.


At the time of birth the baby does certain activities in response to various stimuli from environment like crying, trembling, smiling. These are not considered developed emotions. Psychologists say that newly born baby has two generalised responses.

(i) Pleasant

When the baby feels comfor­table, well fed and he smiles

(ii) Unpleasant


When the baby is uncomfortable, in pain or is hungry, then he cries. From third month the various emotions start emerging.

Expression of emotion

1. Anger

In comparison to other emotions the emotion of anger emerges around 3 month and is found frequently in children. When the child is hungry and he doesn’t get milk, somebody snatches his toy or when some interference is created in his activities etc. lead to the emergence of anger.

The child shows aggressive behaviour. He breaks throws, hits or even bites sometimes. Young babies cry, they close their fists, their face becomes red. When they learn to speak they express their anger through language, e.g., “I am angry with you”, “I will not talk to you”, “I will complain to ma-pa”, etc.

2. Happiness

The first emotion that baby experiences is happiness when he is well fed. He smiles, expresses happiness and feels comfortable after bath and change of clothes. Six months-old baby claps and laughs when he is happy. One year-old jumps and rolls on the ground when he is happy. Two year-old expresses his happiness through language “Achha alga” “Maze a gay”, etc.

3. Distress

Along with the feeling of happiness the baby experiences a state of distress or sadness whenever he is uncomfortable. The baby shows his distress by crying when wet or hungry. He shows temper tantrums also.

4. Fear

From 6 month the emotion of fear starts developing in the baby. The baby experiences of feeling of fear on hearing loud sound or on seeing a strange person, children are scared of new place, darkness, loneliness and certain previous bad experiences.

The baby learns some emotions by imitation also. If the mother is scared of something, e.g., mouse or an insect the baby also starts fearing the same. The baby if accidentally experiences fire or electric current get permanently scared of them. Different children have different expressions of fear.

Some starts crying; some run away from fearful situation and some hide behind their mother and start trembling. When they grow up they also express their fear through language.

5. Jealousy

Eighteen months-old baby experiences the emotion of jealousy. With the arrival of younger sibling, he starts feeling jealous of him as he feels that instead of him the younger sibling has became centre of attraction and he is being ignored.

He hits the baby, bites and tries to do harm to him. He pushes the baby from his mother’s lap. He demands that he should be fed with the bottle as mother is feeding the younger one. When scolded he starts wetting the bed or sucking the thumb? If the parents praise any other child he becomes jealous of that child.

They express their jealousy through language “Amit is a dirty boy”, “Mama doesn’t hold him, I don’t want it.” This tendency is at peak around 3 to 4 years. Children of nuclear families are more jealous.

6. Shyness

Child starts feeling conscious of unfamiliar faces and things around the age of 6 to 8 months. If the mother makes a different hair do or someone wear a spectacle, the child tries to avoid him or her.

He hides his own face or pushes the other person away from him. When above one year, he runs and hides himself behind his mother or a piece of furniture. It sometimes hides his face.