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Natalie Clauss

Aspects of child development - society and feelings

In the last part on the developmental areas, I dealt with the development of thinking, i.e. cognitive development. Closely connected with this are the emotional development and also the social development, which I have summarized here.

Already in pregnancy an unborn child has feelings, even if they are still unconscious. They arise in the limbic system in the brain, the emotional center. You may be familiar with the question, "At what point is an embryo a living being worth protecting?" For me, the fact that unborn babies can already feel emotions is connected to this especially at the end of pregnancy.

After birth, emotional and social development continues to progress. An infant already engages with its environment. It sends signals to express its needs. For example, he smacks his lips when he is hungry or puts his hand in his mouth. He cries when he needs closeness. And even the crying can be distinguished for the parents (in most situations). For example, a cry of hunger sounds different from a cry of pain. The more awake the baby becomes, the more it turns its attention to voices or faces. It seems to recognize voices in particular.

After an initial arrival in the world, our little babies smile when we engage with them. They stick out their tongues when we do and mirror us with it. I had already described this phenomenon in the last article. Gradually, a day-night rhythm also develops and babies can distinguish these times of day relatively quickly. By the way, breastfeeding at night is not necessarily less because of this. Regular, frequent breastfeeding at night is important in many ways.

Over time, the limbic system, the emotional center in the brain, continues to mature. Starting at six months of age, infants begin to recognize and perceive connections between various actions or events and emotions. This perception becomes increasingly conscious, which is why interactions develop between the baby and its environment. Many babies like to throw things off the table during this time and wait for them to be picked up again.

In the second half of life, the period of strangeness also begins for many babies. Especially people who look grim or otherwise seem unsympathetic and frightening to the baby have a hard time now. These interpretations would often not be bad for us at all. For example, many babies are frightened by men with beards, although we would not necessarily see a reason for fear here. Most babies at this time are very affectionate and related to the mother, which of course can be exhausting. However, this is a sign of a stable bond between mom and baby.

Socioemotional development continues after the first birthday. For many children, the autonomy phase now begins, which initially meets with little understanding from some parents. Often we do not yet understand what our young children want from us and we do not understand why they are so angry. This often improves with the increasing development of language, although the regulation of feelings must first be learned. Our children now want to do a lot themselves.

They now also increasingly move away from their parents when playing or even when going for a walk, thus wanting to achieve an initial independence. However, they usually only go as far away as they can still see us as parents. The safe haven must still be in sight. While toddlers initially play mainly side by side(parallel play) and hardly engage with each other, later they also get more into partner play, where they interact in twos or threes and play together. At this time, many children also no longer just call themselves by name, but are able to define an "I" and express themselves that way.

Over the next few years, games become more complex and more people are involved in the game. Role-playing and rule-based games are popular at this time. More and more, the feelings of others are now recognized and can be partially named. In addition, the child learns increasingly better to regulate his own feelings and to express them appropriately.

Feelings always bring us into an exchange with our environment, with our fellow human beings. Feelings inevitably lead to a reaction in our counterpart, be it ignorance or silence. As Watzlawick so aptly said: "You cannot not communicate". For this reason I have combined the two areas of development. However, also here again and again interactions with all other development areas show up.

With this article I have covered the most important developmental areas of the first year of life. Other possible developmental areas that will become more relevant later are


development of independence (again, related to socioemotional development), the area of leisure and play, which I have already taken up here, and the differentiation of gross and fine motor skills in the area of movement, especially in relation to the hands (writing and painting).

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