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Social Emotional Development in Infants and Toddlers

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 11:40 AM


Social emotional development simply refers to a child's capacity to experience emotions and respond appropriately. By learning proper responses to emotional matters, children are more likely to lead healthy, more productive lives as adults. Some aspects of social emotional development include:


• Self-confidence and self-esteem


•Self-control and behavior


•Empathy and compassion

•Cooperation and cooperative play.



Examples of typical social emotional development include laughing and smiling at a mirror reflection (7 months); wanting to be near adults and needing reassurance that a caregiver is nearby (14 months); imitating grown-up activities (16 months); claiming ownership of personal things (mine!) (24 months), and; pretending to be a Mommy or Daddy (24 months).



The reason for a child to be experiencing a delay in social emotional development is not always clear. Children with Autism especially have difficulty in this area of development. These children often avoid social interaction, prefer solitary play, and have difficulty interpreting body language and reading facial expressions. Children with Autism may say "ow" when they are being tickled or laugh when being scolded. For these children, proper social emotional responses do not develop as naturally as with typically developing children.



Environmental risk factors have also been known to impact a child's social emotional development. Examples of these types of risk factors include:

•Exposure to infection, alcohol or drugs prior to birth

•Poor nutrition

•Lead poisoning or exposure to other toxins

•Premature birth

•Poor prenatal care

•Life experiences.



It is important to remember that a child's social emotional skills do not development in isolation. Delays in other areas of development, including communication, motor, and cognition, may impact social emotional development as well.



Regardless of the reason for a social emotional delay, the earlier the intervention, the greater the likelihood that the delay can be successfully addressed.

Categories: speech development

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