The Emotional Journey
An expecting parent can prepare for a lot of things before their child comes. They can set up the crib, store up on diapers and wipes, blankets and onsies. But they often get so excited we often forget one major detail: emotional development.
Whether or not you are an expecting parent or have been blessed within that last six months, it’s never too early to learn about the ups and downs our child will go through. There is tons of research, but the basics are often very helpful for us as parents to take notice of.
At birth, infants experience only simple emotional states such as distress, contentment and interest. All made apparent to us by crying or cooing. Around 2-4 months, look for evidence of happiness, smiling at the sight or sound of a parent. Within 4-6 months, our babies begin to experience basic emotions such as excitement, anger, fear, joy and sadness. Six to 18 months old will begin to develop these emotions in a broader sense, even being able to speak some words matching the emotion. From 18-24 months, you may begin to see your child experiencing guilt and embarrassment, and even pride.
So why is it important to know this? When we understand the emotional state of our child, we are able to guide them through their emotional life, modeling healthy reactions and teaching our child how to deal with negative emotions. When we put ourselves in the little mind of a 6 month old, we’re able to better deal with what is really happening. Our parent/child bond grows even stronger as we become in tune with our child’s emotional journey. You develop great communication skills with you child which can undoubtedly help you in the teen years.
Moreover, it can help us as a tired and frustrated parent to realize that we’re doing ok, we’re not screwing up, and our child is normal.