Observing Emotions

Are babies and toddlers affected by adult emotions, even when those emotions aren't directed at them?

The answer is yes.

In 2 different studies, researchers looked at how children responded to adults who displayed anger and sadness. What they found was that even the youngest among us tune into our vibes.

 

In the first study, researchers found that infants were more hesitant to play with a toy when an adult had displayed anger toward someone else playing with that toy. It was clear that the infants feared the adult would be angry with them, too.

In the second study, researchers found that 18-month-old children displayed empathy and tried to cheer up adults who expressed sadness over a stolen toy.

These two studies, demonstrate the degree to which children seek the approval and positive feedback of adults.

It stands to reason, then, that controlling our emotions can help kids with their own emotional development.

Need Ways to Control Your Own Emotions?

Here are some tips from the Zero to Three Foundation:

  1. Tune in to your emotions to understand why you’re feeling the way you are.
  2. Tune in to and validate your child's emotions.
  3. Ignore toddler behaviors meant to manipulate you.
  4. Set limits for your child and provide choices for handling his or her own emotions.

More tips from Zero to Three

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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