Emotional and Social
Development from age 1 to 3
Children experience negative emotions as well as rebellion,
but also emotional periods such as happiness, calmness,
stability and inner peace. These emotions go in cycles which
can be observed in emotional stages that most children go
through. Although, it is important to remember that each
child is an individual.
18 months
Children at this stage are primarily self-centered, which means they are only
thinking about their own needs and wants. During infancy a child's needs are
generally met by caregivers immediately, but during a child's eighteen months the
care givers begin to teach the child that some needs can't be met as soon as desired.
This is a difficult life lesson for the child to learn. Negativism or doing the opposite
of what others want/ask is a normal response in a developing child in the toddler
years. This is because of the child's desire for independence.
For example, a child might do the opposite of what
someone tells her/him just by simply saying "Let me decide for
myself sometimes."
Example, a child may even respond "no" to an activity
they want to do, for the chance to take charge of a decision
A toddler may also express frustration, this is normally caused because their
body and vocabulary aren't developed enough to obey or express their
wishes. Also a child is starting to realize that they are an individual, this
excites and frightens them. Children like the power but also miss the close
bond with their caregiver. Understanding that these emotions are normal for
toddlers is very important in trying to cope with them. Many children around
the age of 18 months begin to have temper tantrums, which can continue
onto the ages of 3 or 4.
Temper tantrums – Incidents when children release
anger by screaming, crying, kicking and sometimes even holding
their breath.
2 Years
A child's speech and motor skills have improved. The child
also understands more and is able to wait for longer periods of
time. Two year olds express love and affection freely and
seek approval and praise. A child has fewer and less intense
emotional outbursts. Also relationships with parents and other
children have improved. Two year olds tend to be friendly,
outgoing and less self-centered.
3 Years
Most three year olds have made remarkable strides in emotional
development at this stage. Three year olds are more physically able to
do things, as they do not have to deal with as many frustrating
situations. Three year olds take directions well from others. They are
also more eager for praise and affection. They usually have fewer and
less violent temper tantrums, and love to talk because they are better
at it. Children at this age enjoy talking to imaginary companions, to
themselves, and toys. They also respond to others talking and can be
reasoned with and controlled with words.
Specific Emotions
Children express their emotions more freely until the age of two or three. As they
mature they begin to be affected by the cultural demands for more control of
emotional expression. Children's emotions are anger, fear, jealousy, affection and
Outgoing confident children seem to display their anger aggressively (ex. hitting others). While shy
passive toddlers are more likely to cry and seek attention from an adult. If these expressions of anger
aren't met with the desires the children want, the children's reactions will begin to become less
aggressive. Eventually physical attacks will be replaced
by threatening, name-calling and pouting. Although frequency of a
child's anger subsides as they become older, the intensity changes.
The most destructive and disturbing for both parent and child are
frequent outburst of anger. Parents should recognize and respond to
the child's anxiety rather than their anger. When a child is about
three years old, they being to think about "hitting back".
Common temporary causes of anger include:
Factors that may results in a child displaying anger include:
-Being anxious or insecure
-Not possessing self-control
• One to three year olds may be
frightened of high places,
strangers, and loud noises. They
may also be afraid of the dark,
animals and storms. Some fears are
useful and can help keep toddlers
out of dangerous situations. Some
children have more fears than
others, these factors include,
physical condition, mental
development, temperament, feeling
of security and ability to cope with
daily life.
• Jealousy becomes recognizable sometime in the second year. Jealousy
reaches its peak in a child three years of age. Resentment of affection between
parents is one of the most common causes of jealousy in early childhood.
Sibling rivalry is competition between brothers and/or sisters for their
parents affection and attention. Children between ages 18 months and three
seem to be most jealous of a new baby. A child may try to hurt the baby or
demand it be “taken back”. Some suggestions are: Arrange special alone time
with our kid, complement the youngster on his or her appropriate behavior,
give the older child extra love and attention.
• Most children don’t show sympathy until the age of two. To understand
sympathy, a child must understand that a situation can be upsetting for
someone else even though he or she does not feel upset. A three year old may
pat or talk to an unhappy baby or push all his/her toys into the crib to try and
make them feel better.
Love & affection
The relationships that children have with others in their
early years are very important. The relationships they
have later on in life are based on their experience with
love and affection in their younger years. Children
must learn to love at a young age through example and
experience. The first love that forms is towards the
person that meets all the baby's needs. The main
caregiver will be preferred over all others. It is
important that relationships between parents and
children are strong but not smothering. If a child is too
dependent on a parent it could create difficulty in
forming new relationships with others. Gradually the
child will start to develop affection towards others.
Evaluating emotional
Between 1-4 birthdays the most important clue that a child is developing well
emotionally is the harmony of the child-parent relationship. The early pattern
that is formed between a parent and child is never outgrown. It will significantly
influence the child's relationships throughout life.
What are some signs of a healthy relationship?
-Child seeks approval/praise from the parents.
-Child looks for comfort/help with the parents.
-Child expresses significant events with the parents in hopes to share
joy and sorrow.
-Child accepts limits and discipline without unusual resistance.
General Social patterns
Young children gradually learn to get along with other people in their
own families and other groups. This is the beginning of socialization
which is the process of learning to get along with others. Social
development is related to emotional, intellectual and physical
development. Individual differences may affect these patterns.
18 months
The main goal for socialization for children at the age of eighteen
months is developing independence from their family. For many
children the strongest and closest relationships will always be with
those who are in their family. At this stage toddlers must begin to
learn about the world surrounding them. Planning trips to the
park would be beneficial in learning about the outside world and
being presented with opportunities to communicate with people
other than family members. At this age children start to notice
and play with other children, but the amount is very small.
•Parallel play – Children playing independently beside
others, but not actually interacting with each other.
Children at eighteen months seem to treat others more like
objects than as human beings. They are interested in satisfying
their own desires without regard for anyone who interferes.
2 years
At two years old, the child is good at understanding and interacting
with the caregiver. The child is able to read caregivers moods. Speech
is developing, which makes them able to communicate with others.
Two year olds enjoy interacting and playing with other children. They
like to please people but most children at this age cannot share or take
2.5 years
A child at the age of two and a half may willingly perform tasks for
one person but refuse for someone else, this behavior is impossible to
understand. The child is beginning to learn and understand the rights
of others. Social play with other children works.
3 years
• People are important to children at this age. Three year olds will share, help,
or do things another persons way- just to please them. They begin to have
cooperative play, (actually playing with another, interacting and
cooperating.) They can also work together in small groups. At three years old,
children are more sure of themselves and are less easily frustrated then at
earlier stages.
Creating friendships
-Important part in social
development is
creating friendships.
It is also a sign of good
social progress.
If a child is comfortable with others
and has at least one friend it usually
means that they are developing
normally. If the child is unwilling to
make friends, the problem should be
identified and fixed because social
development is a crucial part of life.
Also important that there is
interaction with others their own
age, because if a child is only used
to being around polite and
considerate adults, there could be
problems trying to interact with
people their age later on in life.
Children need to learn how to solve
disagreements on their own, if no
physical/emotional harm is being
done, the children should be left to
resolve it on their own. This is also a
good step to learn in being able to
resolve conflicts by themselves.
Developing good self concept
The formation of self concept begins at birth and continues
throughout life. Even on the first days of life a newborn is
beginning to form his or her self concept. Example, when
the baby cries the parents respond willingly and quickly to
comfort the baby. This makes the child feel worth while. As
children begin to understand language, they are
increasingly influenced by what people say to and about
them. Children who have a positive self concept usually
get along well with other people. They are generally
confident and outgoing.
• Self concept- The way you feel about yourself which
affects your relationships with other people.
• Positive self concept-An inclination to see oneself as
good, worthwhile and capable.
• Negative self concept- An inclination to see oneself as
bad, unimportant or incapable.
Respecting Individual
Important for parents to respect the child's individuality.
Parents often want them to be more like themselves.
Parents should help their child's in finding themselves
but they should let each child develop with their own
Example, Outgoing parents may try to get
their shy child to be more outgoing, which does
not work. This is because a child self-concept
depends on how well they feel accepted.
Descriptions of the 3 basic personality
types, these are extreme cases but
many children show characteristics of
more than one type.
1) Sensitive child
-Prefers to be alone.
-Long attention span (Spent long lengths of time with one activity and not
get bored.)
-Often lack the ability to stand up for their own rights/desires.
-Less adventurous, hold back from new experiences often.
-Less tolerant to conflict.
How to help
Parents must help children with new situations with less reluctance. If
sheltered too much it does not encourage independence. Small tasks can
be completed successfully which will help build the child's confidence.
2) Placid Child
-Take things as they are
-Often at peace with the world
-Typically play happy with others
-Outgoing and respond well to others
-Often enjoy everyday tasks (they may create a game out of
-Require praise and encouragement like all other children.
How to help
Parents should be aware of the child’s
needs and should be careful to offer
Them a lot of time, care and attention.
3) Aggressive Child
-Energetic and noisy
-Inclined towards active and physical play
-Rarely enjoy quiet activities such as drawing
-Often take the toys they desire from others
-If things do not go their way it could result in biting,
kicking or hitting. Also, as a last result they could begin
to cry or have a temper tantrum.
How to help
Praise is very useful for helping
an aggressive children.
• Discipline is the task of helping children learn to
behave in acceptable ways on their own. The long
range goal of discipline is to help children develop
self-discipline (The ability to control ones own
behavior.) The child will not always have someone
around to tell them right from wrong. Discipline is
often necessary to keep children out of danger.

Chapter 12 – Social Emotional 1 – 3 – SC