Emotional Development during Different Ages

Emotional development is one of the major aspects of the human growth and development. Emotions like love, anger, fear etc. play a great role in the

Emotional Development

Emotional development is one of the major aspects of the human growth and development. Emotions like love, anger, fear etc. play a great role in the development of a child's personality. Not only his physical growth and development is linked with his emotional make up but his intellectual, social moral and aesthetic development are also controlled by his emotional behaviour and experiences.

Emotional Development during Different Ages

Meaning and Definition of Emotion

Social emotional development represents a specific domain of child development. It is a gradual, integrative process through which children acquire the capacity to understand, experience, express, and manage emotions and to develop meaningful relationships with others. Social emotional development sets a foundation for children to engage in other developmental tasks.

Etymologically the word 'emotion' is derived from the Latin word 'Emovere' which means 'to stir up', 'to agitate', 'to excite'.

According to Woodworm, "Emotion is a 'moved' or 'stirred-up' state of an organism. It is a stirred up state of feeling that is the way it appears to the individual himself. It is a disturbed muscular and glandular activity that is the way it appears to an external observer."

According to Crow and Crow, "An emotion is an effective experience that accompanies generalized inner adjustment and mental and psychological stirred up states in the individual, and that shows itself in his overt behaviour."

Mc Dougall considering instincts as an innate tendency maintains that all the specific human emotions are derived from instincts. According to him an instinctive behaviour has three aspects:

  1. Cognition (knowing)
  2. Affection (feeling or experiencing an emotion)
  3. Conation (doing or striving)

When a child sees a bull coming towards him, he experiences an instinctive behaviour and undergoes the above three processes. Firstly, he perceives the bull, secondly he experiences an emotion of Tear and thirdly he tries to run away. Therefore he concludes that an emotion is an affective experience that one undergoes during an instinctive excitement. He discovered 14 basic instincts. Each and every emotion, whatever it may be is the product of some instinctive behaviour.

From the above definitions and derivation of emotion we can conclude the following important information about emotion:

1. The emotional experience are associated with some instincts or biological drives:- When the basic need is satisfied or challenged (the satisfaction is in danger), the emotions play their part.

2. In general emotions are the product of perception:- The perception of a proper stimulus (object or situation) is needed to start an emotional experience. The organic changes within the body (favourable or unfavourable) may intensify the emotional experiences.

3. The core of an emotion is feeling, which is essentially linked with some sort of impulsive act or urge to do. For the clarification let us try to differentiate between feelings and emotions.

Actually every emotional experience, whatever it may be, involves feelings-things of the heart. Feelings and emotions both are affective both experiences. There is only the difference of degrees. After perceiving a thing or situation, feelings like pleasure or displeasure can be aroused. There may be some intensity or degree of strength in these feelings. When the feelings are so strong as enable to disturb or agitate the mind and can excite an individual to act immediately-they are turned into emotions. Therefore, the urge to do or act (conative aspect) is the most important emotion experience.

4. Every emotional experience involves many physical and physiological changes in the organism. Some of the changes which express themselves in overt behaviour easily observable. Examples of such changes are the bulge of the eyes, the flush of the face, the flow of tears, the pulse rate, the beating of the heart, the choke in the voice, the feeling from the situation or the attack on the emotion arousing stimulus. In addition to these easily observable changes there are internal physiological changes. Examples of such changes are changes in the circulation of blood, the impact on digestive system and the changes in the functioning of some glands like adrenal glands etc.

These changes become so specific and distinguishable in the human being that a simple glimpse can enable us to detect a particular emotional experience in an individual and we can see whether he is an anger on suffers from fear etc. In addition to the above characteristics, the emotions have some more specific things to be told about. These are:

  1. Emotions are prevalent in every living organism.
  2. They are present at all stages of development and can be aroused in young as well as in old.
  3. Emotions are the most individual and they differ from person to person.
  4. Same emotion can be aroused by a number of different stimuli objects or situations.
  5. Emotions rise abruptly but die slowly. An emotion once aroused tends to persist and leaves behind emotional mood.

Emotional development during Infancy

1. From his very birth, the infant cries and his bodily movements seem to give evidence of the presence of emotional element in him. What are the specific emotions, if any which he experiences at this stage is a difficult question to be answered.

2. Truly speaking, as Mrs. Hurlock puts it. "At birth and shortly afterwards the first sign of emotional behaviour is general excitement to strong stimulation. There are no indications of clear cut, definite emotional patterns that cans be, recognized and unidentified as specific emotional states." Thus, it is the stage of undifferentiated excitement to any stimulus.

3. The stage of undifferentiated excitement is over in a very short time, when the general excitement is over in a very short time, when the general excitement becomes differentiated into simple responses that suggest pleasure and displeasure. The stimuli like sudden loud noise, wet, cold or hot objects applied to the baby's skin, feeling hungry and uncomfortable etc. bring pleasant responses.

4. The differentiation of general excitement into pleasant and unpleasant responses takes the following pattern according to Sptiz:

"During the first two months pleasure and displeasure come in response to physical stimulation. By the third month. Pleasure is aroused by physiological' stimulation as shown in the baby's smile in response to human face. Slightly later displeasure can be aroused by psychological as well as physical stimuli as may be seen in the baby's reaction to being left alone."

5. As said above, before the age of 6 months the emotional behaviour is expressed through pleasant and unpleasant responses, that is, there are only two emotions (distress and delight) up to this stage. When the infant completes his six months, the negative emotions take the lead and gradually in the coming months, fear, disgust, anger, jealousy all are distinguishable. Between the 10th and 12th months the positive emotions like elation, love, sympathy, enjoyment all enter in field. Up to 2 years, as the study of Bridges conduct in 1931 shows almost all the emotions, positives as well as negative, take their shape and become quite distinguishable.

Emotional Development during Childhood

As said above, almost all the emotions make themselves distinguishable up to the beginning of childhood. Therefore emotional development after the stage of infancy, concerns itself, only to the changes in the nature of situations or stimuli arousing emotions and the changes in the expression of emotional experiences. We find the following changes in the child during childhood:

1. In infancy the child is only concerned with his own well-being. Therefore the emotions are generally aroused by the conditions which are related with his immediate well-being. But-as he grows, his world grows larger and he has to respond to a variety of stimuli. During childhood peer group relationship and school atmosphere and other environmental factors influence his emotional behaviour. His emotions get linked with the new experiences and interests and his emotional behaviour gets linked with the new stimuli. At the same time he does not react to various old stimuli. For example, he does not show anger at being dressed or bathed, neither does he show any fear of strangers.

2. There is a remarkable change in the expression of emotional behaviour. In infancy this behaviour is usually dominated by too much intensity and is usually expressed through motor responses like crying. yelling etc. But in childhood and specially in later childhood, the child tries to express his behaviour through reasonable means and is the result of many factors. In childhood the child in a position to express his feelings through language. Secondly, he becomes social and realize that it may not be desirable or proper for him to show his emotions all times. Thirdly, his intellect begins to play a proper role in exercising check over emotional outbursts.

Emotional Development during Adolescence

The emotional balance is once again disturbed in adolescence. The individual once again experiences that violent and intensive current of emotional experiences. With regard to emotional experiences, this is the period of intensive form and stress. At no stage this emotional energy is so strong and dangerous as in adolescence. It is very difficult for an adolescent to exercise control over his emotions. The sudden functioning of sexual glands and tremendous increase in physical energy makes him restless.

Moreover adolescents are not consistent in their emotions. Emotions during this stage fluctuate very frequently and quickly. It makes them moody. Sometimes they are very happy and at an other time they are extremely sad and all this happens in a very short time. So there is too much uncertainty in the nature of their emotional states.

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