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Emotional development is the emergence of experience, expression, understanding, and regulation of emotions from birth. It constitutes the growth and change in these capacities throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
For a much more comprehensive understanding of emotional development read more here.
Emotional Development in relation to Age Period
In 1956, Psychiatrist Erik Erikson developed Eight Stages of Development where he describes the different socialization stages a human undergoes. These eight stages include developing hope, will, purpose, competence, fidelity, love, care, and wisdom.
Starting from childhood, these stages last well into adulthood and forms the crux of emotional development in an individual. Let us now look briefly into the relationship between age and emotional development.
1. Infancy (0- 1½ years)
This is the period where the major emotional development is learning basic trust. The child is dependent on their caregiver who nurtures and loves them. Therefore, a well-handled child develops trust, hope, and a basic optimism towards life. Failure by the caregiver to perform the same can lead to the child being cynical and insecure.
2. Early Childhood (1½-3 years)
In this period there is an emergence of self-awareness and consciousness of own emotional responses. In this age, the “well-parented” child emerges self-assured and proud of their newfound control and freedom. This brings with itself initiative. The other side of the coin are tantrums and the stubbornness that comes with a stormy self.
3. Preschool (3-5 years)
This age brings with itself purpose. It initiates imagination, cooperation, teamwork, and a lot of awareness and insight into others’ feelings. The other side of this age group is gripped by guilt, is fearful, doesn’t stand out. They’re also restricted in imagination.
4. Early Elementary School (5-7 years)
Children in this age group adopt a cool emotional front in front of their peers. They are self-conscious, relate with their peers, and learn to follow rules with systemic extracurricular activities. At this stage, children are either trusting, full of initiative, purpose and ideas or they’re left feeling inferior. Children can also be mistrusting, doubtful, and experience inferiority as a result of the earlier psychological crisis.
5. Middle Childhood (7-10 years)
Middle childhood is an age group where children either solves a problem or distances themselves from it. This difference is based on the amount of control they have over a situation. Therefore, this is the time when children develop expressive behavior to balance relationships. The other side of this coin is a kid staying alone and emotionally closed off to people.
6. Preadolescence (10-13 years)
This age group begins to understand social norms and has increased social awareness and sensitivity. They differentiate in genuine expression between close trusted friends and peers. However, a mistrusting child is doubtful towards the future. They prefer being alone and therefore, try their best to blend in with the crowd.
7. Adolescence (13+ years)
This age group is looking for answers to the question “Who am I?”. They mature and want to experiment. Children at this age have a lot of questions that might be hard to answer. Consequently, they may experience some role identity crises and acquire self–certainty as opposed to self-doubt. They are very aware of their emotions and learn to cope insightfully. There is a development of integrity and moral character.
The emotional development of a person is unique to each individual as the situations presented to everyone are different. No two people have to face the same set of situations that in itself makes them who they are. Understanding these stages will help parents and teachers teach and help learn emotional development in a more effective manner.