PSY 302- Child Development
Class Notes Chapter 10 Emotional Development and Chapter 11(pg. 423-438)
Walter Mischel found…
• In research by Walter Mischel, preschoolers’abilities to delay gratification were found to
predict their social, emotional, and academic competence many years later.
• Aset of abilities that contribute to competent social functioning:
• Being able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustration
• Control impulses and delay gratification
• Identify and understand one’s own and others’feelings
• Regulate one’s moods
• Regulate the expression of emotion in social interactions
• Empathize with others’emotions
• Abetter predictor than IQ of how well people will do in life, especially in their social
• Empirical support: Best predictor of how well children from impoverished areas =
Frustration management, leads to emotional control, and leads to getting along with
others (Felsman & Vaillant, 1987)
The Development of Emotions in Early Childhood
• Emotion is characterized by a motivational force or action tendency and by changes in:
o Physiology, Subjective feelings, and Overt behavior.
o Although most psychologists share this general view of emotion, they often do
not agree on the relative importance of its key components.
Theories on the Nature and Emergence of Emotion
• There is considerable debate, for example, about the basic nature of emotions,
including whether they are innate or partly learned, and about when and in what
form different emotions emerge during infancy.
Discrete Emotions Theory 2
• Argues that: Emotions are innate and are discrete from one another from very early in
• Each emotion is packaged with a specific and distinctive set of bodily and facial
• Emphasizes the role of the environment in emotional development
• Proposes that the basic function of emotions is to promote action toward achieving a goal
• Maintains that emotions are not discrete from one another and vary somewhat based on
the social environment
The Emergence of Emotion in the EarlyYears and Childhood
• To make their interpretations of infants’emotions objective, researchers have devised
highly elaborate systems for coding and classifying the emotional meaning of infants’
• These systems identify emotions first by coding dozens of facial cues and then by
analyzing the combination in which these cues are present.
• Nonetheless, it is often hard to determine exactly which emotions infants are
• It is particularly difficult to differentiate among the various negative emotions that young
How do Babies Express Their Emotions?
• Parents view 1 month old infants as displaying wide range of emotions
• Sequencing of discrete emotions (Izard)
• Startle, disgust, distress, rudimentary smile
• 2-3 months:Anger, interest, surprise, and sadness
• 4 to 7 months: Interest, joy, sadness, and anger
• 7 months: Fear
1. Positive Emotions
• Smiling is the first clear sign of happiness that infants express.
• Young infants smile from their earliest days, but the meaning of their smiles appears to
change with age. 3
• Social Smiles are directed toward people and first emerge as early as 6 to 7 weeks of age.
• At about 7 months, infants start to smile primarily at familiar people, rather than at
people in general.
• After about 3 or 4 months of age, infants laugh as well as smile during a variety of
• During the second year of life, children start to clown around and are delighted when they
can make other people laugh.
• The first negative emotion that is discernible in infants is generalized distress.
• By 2 months of age, facial expressions of anger or sadness can be differentiated from
distress/pain in some contexts.
• By the second year of life, differentiating between infants’anger and other negative
emotions is no longer difficult.
Fear Evolves more slowly
• 2 phases: wariness and true fear
• 4 months
• Smile less at unfamiliar adults
• 5 months - Sober stare
• 6 months - Distress
• Refers to feelings of distress that children, especially infants and toddlers, experience
when they are separated, or expect to be separated, from individuals to whom they are
• It is a salient and important type of fear and distress that tends to increase from 8 to 13 or
15 months and then begins to decline.
This pattern is observed across many cultures.
The Self-Conscious Emotions 4
• Feelings such as guilt, shame, embarrassment, and pride that relate to our sense of self
and our consciousness of others’reactions to us.
• Emerge during the second year of life
• At about 15 to 24 months of age, some children start to show embarrassment when they
are made the center of attention.
• By 3 years of age, children’s pride is increasingly tied to their level of performance.
• The situations likely to induce self-conscious emotions in children vary somewhat across
Normal Emotional Development in Childhood
• From early to middle childhood, acceptance by peers and achieving goals become
increasingly important sources of happiness and pride.
• School-age children’s fears are generally related to real-life important issues rather than
• By the early school years, children’s perceptions of others’motives and intentions are
important in determining whether or not they will be angered.
• Children overall become less intense and less emotionally negative with age in the
preschool and early school years.
Regulation of Emotion
The Development of Emotional Regulation
• The process of initiating, inhibiting, or modulating internal feeling states, emotion-related
physiological processes, and emotion-related cognitions or behaviors in the service of
accomplishing one’s goals.
• Its emergence in childhood is a long, slow process.
Learning How to Regulate Emotions
Shift from Caregiver Regulation to Self-Regulation
• In the first months of life, parents help infants regulate their emotional arousal by
controlling their exposure to stimulating events.
• By 6 months, infants can reduce their distress by averting their gaze and sometimes by
self-soothing, which is engaging in stylized or repetitive rubbing or stroking of their
bodies or clothing.
• Between ages 1 and 2, infants increasingly turn their attention to non-distressing objects
or people to distract themselves from sources of distress. 5
Shift from Caregiver Regulation to Self-Regulation
• Over the course of the early years, children
become more likely to rely on themselves rather than their parents when they must delay
• In addition, they become increasingly able to rely on language to manage their emotional
arousal and to regulate their expression of negative emotions.
• Children’s improving self-regulation is due at least in part to the increasing maturation of
the neurological system.
• They are also influenced by increases in adults’expectations of children and to age-
related improvement in the ability to inhibit motor behavior.
Use of Cognitive Strategies to Control Negative Emotions
• Whereas younger children use behavior strategies like distracting themselves with play,
older children also employ cognitive strategies such as mentally distracting themselves
from negative events or trying to see things in a positive light.
• As children age, they are better able to use cognitive strategies to adjust to emotionally
Selection ofAppropriate Regulatory Strategies
• The ability to select cognitive or behavioral strategies that are appropriate for the
situation or stressor is aided by:
• Children’s increasing capacity to distinguish between stressors that can be controlled and
those that cannot be.
• Children’s ability to choose the most effective strategies for managing their reactions to
The Relation of Emotional Regulation to Social Competence and Adjustment
• Social competence is the ability to achieve personal goals in social interactions while
simultaneously maintaining positive relationships
• Emotional regulation has important consequences for social competence.
Individual Differences in Emotion and its Regulation
• The constitutionally based individual differences in emotional, motor, and attentional
reactivity and self-regulation that demonstrate consistency across situations, as well as
relative stability over time. 6
• Differences in the various aspects of children’s emotional reactivity that emerge early in
life are labeled as dimensions of temperament.
• Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas conducted pioneering longitudinal research on infant
• Three categories (based on parents’reports):
o Easy babies (40%): adjusted readily to new experiences, quickly established
routines, and generally were cheerful in mood and easy to calm
o Difficult babies (10%): were slow to adjust to new experiences, likely to react
negatively and intensely to stimuli and events, and irregular in their bodily
o Slow-to-warm-up babies (15%): were somewhat difficult at first but became
easier over time
o The remaining infants did not fit into these categories.
o Some dimensions of temperament showed stability over time and predicted how
children were doing years later.
o In contrast to Thomas and Chess’s approach, many contemporary psychologists believe
that it is important to:
o Assess positive and negative emotion as separate components of temperament
o Differentiate among types of negative emotionality
o Assess different types of regulatory capacity
o Recent research suggests that infant temperament is captured by six dimensions
o Fearful distress, irritable distress, attention span and persistence, activity level, positive
affect, and rhythmicity
Examples of Items in Mary Rothbart’s Temperament Scales
Stability of Temperament Over Time
o Children who as infants showed behavioral inhibition with novel stimuli also showed
elevated levels of fear in novel situations at age 2 and elevated levels of social inhibition
at age 4 ½.
o It is important to note, however, that some aspects of temperament tend to be more stable
than others. 7
Temperament and SocialAdjustment
o In a longitudinal study conducted in New Zealand, young children who were negative,
impulsive, and unregulated had more problems as young adults with adjustment,
including unemployment and conflict with roommates, than did their peers with other
o Behavioral inhibition in infancy, a temperamentally-based style of responding
characterized by the tendency to be particularly fearful and restrained when dealing with
novel or stressful situations; associated with problems such as anxiety, depression, and
social withdrawal at older ages.
Temperament and SocialAdjustment
o Different problems with adjustment are associated with different temperaments.
o However, children’s adjustment depends on how their temperament fits with the demands