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PATTERN OF EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

(of Infant & Children)

 

The following outline is intended to be a rough guide for assessment of emotional development. As the child grows up, the emotional behaviour patterns become more refined.


NEWBORN PERIOD


There is a universal response to alterations of posture (especially sudden release of support) or loud noises around— what is called the “startlepattern” or the “Moro’s reflex”. But according to FREUD, even the foetus may have feelings though “the human infant has been sent into the world more unfinished”. Watson was the first to study emotional reactions of neonates and postulate that the emotional response of later life are perhaps the out-growths of any of the three primary emotions of newborn period, namely fear, anger and love.


INFANCY


(a) FIRST SIX MONTHS: During this period, the infant is solely dependent on the mother.  From the newborn period till about 3 months of age, responses are those of undifferentiated excitement and a little later the infant may show evidence of pleasure (or delight) and displeasure (or distress) as a result of maturation and learning.


(b SECOND SIX MONTHS: The child has a spontaneous social smile and may exhibit normal hand to mouth habits-hand play, mutual fingering or taking feet to the mouth. He may laugh loud in delight or vocalize “m-m-m” when crying in distress. At about a year of age he may show submissiveness and may be frightened of strangers (fear). At about 18 months he shows ano—rectal interest and evinces interest in surroundings; at this period jealousy may develop and the affection shown for other children and adults may be different.


AT 2 YEARS OF AGE


He may develop more independence and try to establish his individuality. He may show greater resistance to feeling or dressing by the mother because he attempts them himself. This has been called the negativistic phase of development as the child says “no” to everything that is asked of him. This emancipation from the parents which begins at this age continues through adolescence.


AT 3 YEARS OF AGE


The child likes to play with other children. He likes to co-operate, obey as well as lead his equals. Anger which in the younger ages expresses itself in the form of hitting or biting, changes to abusive language or “temper-tantrums”. These occur most frequently between 2 and 3 years, after which they show a decline in frequency as well as intensity. The temper-tantrums last for a few minutes and may take the form of kicking, scratching, screaming etc.


AT 5 YEARS OF AGE


The socialisation  continues in school and the co-operation and group activities continue and the child develops as a member of the community.


AT 7 TO 8 YEARS OF AGE


The child develops more interest in members of same sex than in those of the opposite sex. He also evinces great interest in hobbies, community activities etc.


ADOLESCENCE


Begins when secondary sex characteristics appear and cease when maturity is complete.  Adolescence usually occurs a year or two earlier in girls than in boys.


There seems to be some confusion prevailing in the minds of some regarding the terms puberty and adolescence. Puberty means the ability on the part of an individual to procreate, is but one section of adolescence. In recent years, a lot of attention has been focused on the adolescent and many studies have indicated the importance of understanding his greater physical and emotional needs.


CLINICAL APPLICATIONS


Familiarity with the normal patterns of behaviour are of great importance to the pediatrician. The value lies in the evaluation of deviated development and in the proper guidance of many common problems during infancy and childhood.