The desire to be connected with people around is an attribute that is inborn in children. It therefore becomes important that parents, caregivers, teachers and adults around children ensure that social and emotional development from birth to 6 months infant happens the way it is supposed to.
When done the right way, it helps establish secure, positive relationships right from birth, which will in turn satisfy the innate needs for the child to be socially connected.
In this article:
- Leading childhood experts’ view on socio-emotional development
- Socio-emotional and language development milestones for newborn to 6 month old infants
- Developmentally appropriate activities involved in newborn to 6 month old infants
- Apply the knowledge gained to real-life situations.
Leading Childhood Experts’ View on Socio-Emotional Development
Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist who is best known for his socio-cultural theory said: “The true direction of the development of thinking is not from the individual to the social, but from the social to the individual.”
Urie Bronfrenbrenner, a Russian born American psychologist who is best known for his Ecological System Theory also stresses on the fact that the social environment of the child shapes a child and moulds a child’s social and emotional development.
Similarly, a German-American psychologist Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psycho-social Development also helps to understand the milestones of psycho-social development of children.
In his theory, Erikson opines that it is important the child has to be given opportunity to satisfy the social needs. In the event it doesn’t happen, the fallout will be a child with very low social-emotional development.
In addition, language is very important for communication, and the foundation for appropriate language development has to be laid if the social-emotional needs of the child is to be met adequately.
Most of all, it is very important for the parent, caregiver and the teacher to have a knowledge of the developmental milestones of the child. Knowledge of the milestones will help minimize adults having lofty expectations from the child, therefore helping the child in achieving the age-appropriate developmental milestones (and not the lofty-expectations milestones).
What is Socio-Emotional Development in Infants?
Socio-emotional development involves a child being able to express, experience and manage emotions; as well as the capacity to establish positivity and reciprocity in the relationships they form with others.
Socio-emotional includes the use of both intra-personal and interpersonal skills, skills that are fundamental to sustain oneself in a society.
Socio-emotional development also means the ability to interact socially, while being aware of one’s own emotions and being able to regulate oneself in terms of one’s behavior and one’s emotions.
Importance of Socio-Emotional Development in Infants
Research studies have proved that positive relationships formed at the early stage can lead to a healthy brain development. Studies further add that positive socio-emotional development can lead to success in school life and academic performance.
Some of the aspects that highlight the importance of socio-emotional development in infants are that they will be able to:
- Learn to get along with others
- Form better relationships
- Identify one’s own emotions
- Know how to react to emotions of others
Socio-Emotional Developmental Milestones from Birth to 6 Months
Right from birth, babies are trying to learn who they are by the way they are treated by adults. The first year of birth is extremely important in shaping the social skills of the baby.
Let us take a look at the social and emotional development from birth to 6 months, which includes both developmental milestones and the appropriate activities that help enhance the overall development of the infant.
Note: The milestones are divided into 2 parts: Birth to 3 months and 3 months to 6 months.
Socio-Emotional Milestones from Birth to 3 Months
- Watches a face with great interest
- Eyes follow the parent
- Slowly begins to smile and recognize parents
- Is pacified by familiar voice or touch
- Enjoys being touched and cuddled
- Attachment with the parents is very strong
- Social smile is stronger
- Most of the feelings are expressed by crying
Developmentally Appropriate Activities from Birth to 3 Months
- Having a positive family atmosphere
- Having a loving relationship and being responsive to the baby
- Respond to the emotions of the baby
- Talking to the baby during their waking hours
- Talking all the time while dressing, bathing and feeding will lead to more effective attachment
- Cuddling, feeding, changing nappies are away of getting social as well as emotionally satisfying
- Building a sense of trust in the baby will lead to the development of positive self-esteem as they grow
- Interacting with the baby while carrying regular daily activities
As regards interacting with the infant, one of the examples of social emotional development in infants can be parents say things like: “Mama (or Papa) is wearing a rose color saree now. See how colorful it is. Do you like the colour?”
Interactions like these every day and across the day helps the child build better bonds with parents and caregivers.
Socio-Emotional Milestones from 3 to 6 Months
- Smiles spontaneously when around people
- Smiles only at people who are familiar
- Enjoys playing with adults and can even imitate certain expressions
- Can distinguish between strangers and known people (by the 6th month)
- Will be able to respond to own name
- Can express happiness or sadness
- Responds to emotions of others
- Shows excitement by waving arms and kicking legs
- Enjoys looking at the mirror
Developmentally Appropriate Activities from 3 to 6 Months
- Make skin-to-skin contact with the child as much as possible as it is very important for emotional development
- Playing peekaboo regularly everyday
- Play interactive games with the child’s favorite toys
- Applauding a child’s small and simple achievements
- Introduce mirrors
- The adult and the baby can together look into the mirror and play with expressions or talk to their reflections
- Introduce the child to other family members like aunts, uncles and cousins
- Introduce books and music that reflects parents’ respective cultures
- Take the baby to the park as that can be a place of interaction with different age groups
- Give the child the freedom to explore things and places around
- Make sure you do not deliberately restrict movement of your child, as it will bring a sense of mistrust in him/her.
In infants, it becomes very important to ensure social and emotional development from birth to 6 months, as most of the other developments in the child are interrelated to socio-emotional development.
It therefore becomes critical that parents, teachers and caregivers understand and activities the above social emotional activities for 6 month old infants. Knowing is different from doing. Knowing is not the same as doing. The focus here, therefore – is doing the activities with your child.
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.