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Stages of Social Emotional Development

Posted by rpd03 on July 7, 2014 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Social-emotional development is the cornerstone to all areas of development. Greenspan’s theory of emotional development is broken down into 8 stages that build upon one another; these are referred to as “functional emotional developmental capacities” [FEDC] (Bayat, 2012). The first 6 stages span from birth to 5 years of age and are briefly explained below:

1) Self-regulation and Shared Attention (birth to 2 months of age) In this stage, the infant expresses interest in the world around him/her through the senses—visual, auditory, taste and sense of movement (Greenspan & DeGangi 2001). Gomez, Baird and Jung (2004), report research shows “regulatory disorders are predictive of difficulties in the areas of social-emotional development”. Gomez et.al (2004), go on to state that identification and intervention of regulatory disorders hosts many benefits, including eligibility for early intervention services, access to family support services, and “well-defined goals for intervention planning” (Gomez et.al., 2004, p.32).


2) Engagement and Relating (2 to 5 months): In this stage, infants who have mastered the first stage—are able to remain alert and calm—now can form closer relationships with their caregiver(s). At this stage, infants are more interested in interacting with their primary caregiver and can differentiate between their primary caregiver and others (Greenspan & Shanker, 2007). Some simple interactions we see at this stage are: eye contact, a social smile and movement of the limbs in response to a caregiver’s voice (Greenspan, & DeGangi, 2001).


3) Intentionality and Two-way Communication (4 to 10 months of age): In this stage, infants begin to engage in two-way purposeful interactions; every time that they engage in reciprocal communication with their caregiver they close “a circle of communication” (Bayat, 2012, p.190). Greenspan states that a circle of communication begins by one person initiating communication and the other person responding appropriately. At this stage, infants learn that they can manipulate their environment through crying, vocalizing and eye gaze. Infants begin to gain more understanding of the social aspects of language--pragmatics—in these higher level interactions the (Greenspan & Shanker, 2007).


4) Shared Social Problem Solving (9 to 18 months of age): In this stage, infants begin to use symbols and gesture to communicate (Bayat, 2012). For example, children at this stage combine gesture (pointing) and vocalization to show the adult what he/she wants.


5) Creating Symbols and Using Words (18 months to 2.5 years of age): At this stage, children have developed simple language and motor skills and engage in symbolic play (Bayat, 2012). Now, instead of crying when she feels hungry as she would have done when she was infant, she may request food using one word and intonation (i.e. “milk”, or by pointing to milk and using a two-word utterance (i.e.“mommy milk”).


6) Building Bridges Between Ideas (2.5 years to 5 years of age): In this stage children begin to differentiate their own ideas/thoughts and emotions from those of others and begin to differentiate their actions from those of others (Greenspan, & DeGangi, 2001). By doing this, children begin forming logical connections between events which leads to the creation of new social skills (Greenspan & Shanker, 2007).