8.4 Describe the physical and emotional development of babies and how they interact with each other
Do Babies interact with other babies?
Babies notice and interact not just with adults but with other babies as well. They’re curious and interested in what their peers might be like.
Babies’ peer interactions are different from parent-child interactions. Babies start to watch other babies and send them social signals as early as 10 months of age. They might smile, laugh, or vocalize to them, more often than not from a distance. Or they might cry or fuss while watching another baby. Occasionally, they might touch or strike another baby. Many times the interactions among infants and toddlers involve a toy. Toddlers often offer a toy to another child, reach for the toy the other child is playing with, or attempt to play with a toy while the other child is playing with it. Some of the social signals observed in a group of toddlers are listed and defined.
Real social interaction requires not just a signal but also a response, and infants and toddlers aren’t very adept are responding. By far their most frequent response to a social gesture from another infant or toddler is to ignore it. They also might look at the other child or passively grasp an offered toy. Sometimes they hit, touch or pull hair.
Reciprocation of the social intention of the other child are fairly rare in the first or second year of life. When a child of this age does respond to a social gesture, it’s most often a single response with no further interaction following.
Children up to about 2 years of age don’t yet have much ability to sustain social interaction with peers. Interactions do increase when children are brought together more than once and have a chance to become acquainted with each other. They also sometimes get caught up in social games, group activities that involve taking turns, repletion, and imitation, along with lots of smiling and laughing.
It was once thought that young infants do not have emotions (feelings). Their cries and smiles were thought to be simply reflex actions that were not truly related to emotions/ feelings. It has however been found that infants show and respond to many emotions. e.g. joy, surprise, anger, fear, disgust, interest, sadness etc.
Birth – 6 months
One of the first emotions seen in infants is fear. Infants a few months old (2 months) will cry, look surprised and afraid if they hear a loud noise or if they suddenly loose support or see an object fall towards them. Slightly older infants have more pronounced fear reactions and seem angry at times. Babies are also sensitive to sadness e.g. in an experiment. Infants between 1 month and 3 months responded by turning away when their parents pretended to look sad and depressed. When surprised they open their eyes wide. They smile when happy or when smiled at. This is a clear indication that these emotions are developed, at least to a certain extent, in the infants.
8 Months – 2 Years
By 8 months, infants emotions become much stronger and more vamed e.g. many new experiences produce fear. There are different types of fears that are universal among children Fear of strangers (Stranger anxiety) and Separation anxiety – fear of being left by mother or caregiver. Another emotion that becomes much common in toddler hood is anger. Babies also laugh and smile more quickly and more selectively.
Personality has to do with the way a person behaves. It refers to the person’s moods, emotions, actions and responses. When referring to children, we talk of temperament. It refers to the basic dispositions inherent in the person that underlie and govern the expression of activity, reactivity, emotionality and sociability. Many aspects of temperament are innate (the result of genetic & prenatal influences). As the person develops in the social context, the individual’s experiences increasingly influence the nature and expression of temperament. For example we shape the way a child expresses himself by discouraging some habits. Studies have shown that babies differ in nine personality characteristics.
- Activity Level: Some babies are active, they kick a lot in the uterus before they are born. They move around as toddlers and are always nearly running and others are less active.
- Rhythimicity: Some babies have regular cycles of activity e.g. they eat, sleep and defecate at regular periods, others do not.
- Approach–withdrawal: Some babies are delighted by every new thing. Others withdraw from any new situation. E.g. the first bath makes some babies laugh and other cry.
- Adaptability: Some babies adapt quickly to change; others are unhappy at every disruption of their normal routine.
- Intensity of reaction: Some babies are calm and other react intensely.
- Threshold of responsiveness: Some babies seem to sense every sight, sound and touch. E.g. they wake up at a slight noise, turn away from a distant light. Others are unaware of bright lights loud noises and wet diapers (nappies).
- Quality of mood: Some babies seem constantly happy, smiling at almost everything. Others are constantly unhappy – they are ready to complain at any moment.
- Distractibility: Some babies are easily distracted from an interest while others are hard to distract – they are single murdered .
- Attention Span : Some babies play happily with one toy for a considerable period of time. Others quickly drop an activity for another. The attention span varies among children.
8.5 Show the different factors that influence emotional development
Factors that influence emotional development:
Research has documented the role of the following factors in emotional development:
- The child’s temperament: The inborn personality characteristics of a child determine how the child will express and control his/her feelings.
- Quality of care giving: The nature of care giving provided to a child shapes how the child feels, the emotional states he/she develops. Nurturing and gentle caregivers foster the development of the positive emotional states while inconsistent, indifferent and aggressive caregivers may stimulate the development of negative emotions more than positive ones.
- Health Status of the child and caregivers: A child that is consistently ill will not often pay attention to or may become overly sensitive to emotional expressiveness of others. Caregivers that are unwell may also be extreme in the way they express feelings. This may impact the emotional stability and development of those around them, particularly young children.
- Parental expectations and beliefs: Parents’ beliefs and expectations about how emotions should be expressed determine how children show their feelings. Culture suggests the appropriate level and ways for expressing emotional states and specific emotions. These shape the parents expectations and beliefs about emotional expressions. Sometimes there are differences in the parents’ view of how a girl child or a boy child should express their anger, happiness, sorrow or curiosity. In some cultural groups, a boy child is not expected to express certain emotions openly. Boys for example are not encouraged to express emotions by crying. Crying is considered feminine and consequently girls are encouraged to express emotions freely by crying.