Socioemotional Development in Infancy and Childhood
So far, we have considered two major aspects of development—the child’s sensorimo-tor development and her cognitive development. We now turn to a third major aspect of development: the child’s emerging capacity to function as a social and emotional being.
Here, the growth from infancy to early childhood is immense. The newborn is keenly sensitive to (and quite vocal in expressing) her own needs but largely oblivious to the needs of others. Likewise, the newborn has no clue what it means to be a “friend” or how to behave differently at a birthday party than when sitting in church. Young chil-dren master these points—and many others—in a few short years.
As we turn to this third major aspect of development, recall that there are close connections among the various aspects of development. Thus the child’s ability to func-tion as a social being depends on her cognition and on her emerging theory of mind. Likewise, cognitive development is often spurred by learning from others—and so social interactions, which depend on newly developing social skills, can foster intellectual growth. With this important idea in mind, we take up the story of a child’s socioemo-tional development.
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