Before six months the main reason why a child’s emotion and emotional expression is different is due to the brain not being fully mylinated. As the child ages past the first month, their frontal cortex begins to advance as increasing neurological development is starting and beginning to modify and transform the operations of the in-built emotional expressions (Wilson, 2003, p.
55). Suffering, pain, joy, fear and interest are among the first emotions that an infant express. These primary emotions are important as this is a child’s first way of showing and communicating with adults their needs.
It is for the reason of communication we must look at our primary emotions as a human survival mechanism, as these are involuntary and in- built features all children are born with (Wilson, 2003, p. 55). All primary emotions are all expressed in the same manner, which raises the question as to whether emotions are all universal; that emotions are genetic, or that all cultures share mutual background features.
There are 2 main theories on emotional development; discrete emotions theory and a structural approach (Wilson, 2003, p. 48). Izard, Tomkins, Ekman are the leaders of discrete emotions theory.
These theorists proclaimed that emotion had 3 components; physiological, behavioural and subjective. These emotions where present from birth and could be seen by studying facial expressions of infants. The results and information these theorists where gaining agreed with Darwin that these expressions where the same in all culture and must be an in-built neural feature. As humans age our primary emotions network with cognition and form ‘cognitive affected structures’, this is how secondary emotions are developed discrete emotions theory (Wilson, 2003, p. 49).
This theory can be applied to my own family, as recently there was a sudden death of my aunt, as a result we had family members calling from different parts of Australia and the world calling to offer their condolences and support to our family. This reaction to a death of a family member is universal. The structural development approach see’s development as holistic. This approach states that all systems interact with each other and the environment with emphasis on the social environment. The environment play a large factor in the development of children, but theorists cannot deny genetic is also a large contributor.
Sroufe a theorist states that all emotions have antecedent. In Sroufe’s theory in the first 6 months of an infant’s life emotional ancestor can also be physiological states and not recognised as emotions, and that secondary emotions build from there (Wilson, 2003, p. 50). By the age of two, a toddler’s brain contains more neurons than an adult and has twice the amount of connections between these cells. It has been linked that that as a toddler’s brain contains more neurons that they need more rest then adults for their brain’s to function fully.
During this time more neurons die and more connections are pruned throughout brain in the first three years of life than other stage of life. The leading element of the development of expressions of emotion in the child’s environment is the carer and the care the child receives. Emotional deprivation occurs when children who are not had consistent warm emotional relationships as a young child, this leads to their secondary emotions being weak. Children who have suffered from emotional deprivation are targets for exploitation and paedophiles as they have ‘affection hunger’ (Wilson, 2012 slide, 8)
A child in the toddlerhood has additionally reached a point where they have developed a sense of self. The maturation of the frontal lobes and the limbic circuit in the brain is the cause for the development of a toddler achieving a sense of self. As a result of the toddlers sense of self they are able to show empathy and can affectively communicate and label their emotions to their peers and adults. This allows a child to say ‘I am mad or sad’ instead of crying and having a tantrum, although toddlers still react in this manner they can communicate there emotions more effectively (“Emotional development”, 2006,. ara 7). From two to six years of age is early childhood. It is at this stage in a child’s life they have developed motor skills that enable them to become more self-sufficient and self-controlled. Children are creating friendships and being more engrossed in playtime such as; painting pictures which creates symbolic expression. There is an increasing need for the carer to engage with the toddler by conversing and meeting the child’s social, cognitive and emotional needs, their perspectives, and interests.
The child’s ability to tell stories is a way of understanding their perspectives (“Hearing young children’s voices,” nd, p. 19). Through a greater understanding of the world around them a child develop and understanding that the world didn’t revolve around them and that nothing was as simple as they one thought it was. During the age of 2-6 most children attend preschool, which gives young children a great understand about display rules. By attending preschool it gives young children an understanding about how to express their emotions in an appropriate way in all contexts of life ranging from family, school and society.
Toddlers may learn how to appropriately express their emotions but influences from their family still have a great impact on their expression. The preschool is a system, with rules, boundaries, and expectations. It is important for children to know where they stand and by placing them in a system such as preschool whilst they are developing their emotional expression allows them to shine. For children in good environments the control of emotional expression accelerates from 3 to 5 years (Wilson, 2003, p132).
From the age of six to eight children become aware of the difference between expressing emotion and feeling it. This affectively allows the child to manage their emotional expression by reflecting on their emotions; this is an emotional coping skill children learn in order to avoid negative attention or experiences such as bullying. Although, school age children are becoming more exposed to the wider world new challenges are arising such as, fears of failing or poor academic result in school as many children are put under presser from parents to achieve high grades (Berk, 2009, p. 410).
When the child reaches ten years of age their expression of emotions is likely to have significantly enhanced. At this age most children have developed a set of techniques for controlling their expressions of emotion. General strategies are problem centred coping, they are able to identify the challenge, asses and solve issues that may arise. If problem solving is not successful the child may adopt emotion-centred coping that is private and internal (Berk, 2009, p. 410). An external influence has also been heightened during this period such communicating with their peers on how to deal with the situation.
Children at this age are able to justify circumstances and actions or “reconstruct scenarios to make them seem less upsetting emotionally” (“Emotional development”, 2006,. para. 11). By age eleven, the child has began to integrate inner standards of excellence and good behaviour with self-conscious emotions; their internal strategies are starting to be utilised for self-regulating, and a shift from problem centred and emotion centred coping has taken place and there social etiquette of expressing emotions has improved (Berk, 2009, p. 416). In adolescents emotions are still forming. Most children reach adolescence rom eleven to twenty years. During this time an adolescent is trying to create distance from their family and form their independence. Peer pressure may appear to be irresistible regardless of the adolescence’s inner feelings, as it full fills their need for acceptance and desire to ‘fit it’. Emotional expression and even the adolescence’s inner feelings may alter on the way they react to certain stimuli or events, when in the context of groups, this can be seen in how a adolescent reacts on a school excursion to how they react out with their peers on the weekend at a movie theatre. Wilson, 2003, p. 176-77). Young adolescences’ endure peer group contexts where their expression of emotion is displayed in the environment of peer norms. Each child is an individual as they have been brought up in different backgrounds. In turn their fundamental feelings have been restricted although they have acquired the display associated with emotion. In example some adolescences may display in anger in what they have seen of anger, with the increase in aggression used television shows and in movies adds to the range of anger an adolescent cane use (Wilson, 2003, pp176-77).
In certain circumstances some adolescences exhibition emotions that they may not feel or more emotions than felt, this is present in children of younger age groups but, is more dominant in adolescences. Adolescence is known as a period of storm and stress. Social, cognitive and environmental factors are a large contribution of how the adolescences expression of emotion will inevitably mature. During adolescence the social problems become more complex and they chose to talk to their peers to offer help to overcome this situation (“Emotional development”, 2006,. para. 12).
Children who have been deprived have complex expressions of emotions, and on top of the struggle with complicated emotions that arise during adolescents put’s these children at greater strain. Adolescents according to Piaget are self- focusing. Piaget believed that during adolescence a new form of egocentrism formed as adolescents could not separate the difference between their thoughts and others thoughts. There were 2 main ways this could be explained, through self-audience and personal fable. Self -audience is when an adolescent believes they are the emphasis of everyone’s attention.
It is through self-audience that adolescents may feel extremely self-conscious and aware of themselves. Self fable is when an adolescent feels that people are always giving them attention and watching them, this is similar to what a toddler may think but by this stage an adolescent should know that they can not always be the centre of attention. When an adolescent is not receiving they believe is due it leads to them being upset and moody. (Berk, 2009, p. 252) As human beings everyone develops their emotion expression at various time of their life.
As we age and mature so do our emotions and expressions, how an infant reacts to a range of emotions compared to a 20 year old will be absolutely different, this may be due to the culture they have been brought up in or they have learned display rules. As seen throughout this essay emotional development does not occur in isolation but in some rare circumstances it does, there are many cognitive, neurological and behavioural influences interact with emotional, social and cultural influences. References Berk, L. (2009). Child development (8th ed. Person International Edition Colman,A. (2009), Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press Emotional development . (2006). Retrieved from http://www. education. com/reference/article/emotional-development/ Hearing young children’s voices, (n. d). Retrieved from http://www. children. act. gov. au/documents/PDF/under5report. pdf Wilson, L. (2003), The Emotional Life of Children. National Library of Australia: Charles Sturt University. Wilson, L. (2012). Lecture3: dependence needs of children [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from in class on the 17/07/2012