Best Way to Understand Your Baby’s Emotional Development in the Second Year

Family life is an important arena for emotional development. You will already be familiar with the development of your baby’s emotions over the first year. From a very early age your baby learned to express pleasure by smiling. Faced with a surprise or completely unknown situation, she may have shown fear by crying. Secure in your arms, she will have settled calmly and happily, expressing contentment.

Some children are emotionally very responsive, and others less so. Something that one child finds frightening, is merely of interest to another. During the first year of your child’s life, you will have learned a lot about how she approaches the world and you will have been able to help create a balance for her between what she can cope with on her own and with what she needs help. Some babies are easily overstimulated and become fretful, needing more calm and soothing tactics than others. Others are more reticent and will need more encouragement to interact or respond to stimuli.

Baby’s Emotional Development Best Way to Understand Your Baby’s Emotional Development in the Second Year

Expressing emotions in security

You will learn what is best for your child, and it is your role to learn from her cues. Sometimes when children are angry, it may be beneficial to hold them in order to help them contain their feelings, talking calmly all the while. Some children respond better to being left alone until they feel better. But, after any emotional outburst, all toddlers need to be reassured with a loving cuddle.

The role of imaginative play

Apart from the immediate expression of emotions such as happiness, fear and anger, which are relatively straightforward and easy to recognize in your child, she will begin to imitate expressions of love and concern for others. Being encouraged to demonstrate expressions of affection or sympathy for others, even if she doesn’t actually feel it yet, helps with the development of these feelings of empathy. She may also act out different emotions with her teddies or dolls, practising them through her play. This is very important because it means she can experience difficult feelings in a safe place through her imaginative play and begin to understand what it is like to consider other people’s feelings.

Relating to others

What you will notice during the course of this year is that your toddler’s pleasure and appreciation of events will begin to include other people. Her excitement at going to a parent and toddler group, for example, will start to reflect her enjoyment and enthusiasm for spending time with particular friends. She may enjoy going to Granny’s or visiting another family member because she is developing a close and loving relationship, independent of you, with that person.

All these experiences are helping her to develop a full and satisfying emotional life, where she can express her feelings in the safe context of knowing that she is loved and that they are validated. You can make her feel secure no matter what emotions she is expressing.

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