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Emotional Development

Emotions are central to social communication, relationships, and mental health. Emotional development refers to the growing ability to experience, express, recognize, understand, and regulate emotions. This entry describes core features of typical emotional development as well as discusses characteristics of home environments that support versus impair how children learn to attend to, understand, and process their own and others’ emotions. Given space constraints, this entry does not consider children with developmental disorders, such as autism, populations known to exhibit atypical emotional development.

Experiencing and Expressing Emotions

Although controversy surrounds which emotions are innate at birth, researchers agree on two: (1) pleasure and (2) distress. There is general consensus that by the age of 8 to 9 months, infants experience and express six basic emotions (happiness, sadness, fear, ...

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