Nurturing Early Social and Emotional Development
Young infants are very dependent on the assistance of their parents and caregivers to meet their physical and emotional needs. When care is sensitive and responsive, infants learn that their world is safe and that they can trust others to meet their needs. Non-responsive and insensitive care creates a sense that people and the environment are not consistent or trustworthy. Without this basic trust, infants and toddlers find it hard to take risks or to develop a positive sense of self. With sensitive caregiving, infants can move into toddlerhood ready to use their increasing motor, language, and cognitive skills with confidence.
- Trust and emotional security – developed by forming relationships with a small number of people around them. These relationships provide the foundation that supports exploration of the environment, learning, and the development of relationships with others.
- Self-regulation – ability to manage needs and emotions. Moving from helplessness to competence.
- Self-concept – develop a sense of self as increasingly competent and confident.
Toddlers acquire strategies for adapting their emotions or feelings within a variety of settings and with a limited number of people. Because they still have limited verbal skills to describe their feelings, toddlers often express their feelings through actions. Emotions, including angry conflicts, can help toddlers develop new understandings about others’ feelings and motives. Their successful emotional development is linked to their relationships with their parents and care providers and the adults’ knowledge and abilities to respond to toddlers’ individual and temperamental differences.