As a parent or caregiver, it’s essential to understand the various stages of emotional development that children go through. A child’s emotional development takes place on both a conscious and a subconscious level, and monitoring a child’s emotional development is an important part of raising a healthy, well-adjusted child.


What are the basic stages of emotional childhood development?


Infant or baby (birth – 2 years old)

A child goes through many changes in terms of their emotional development in the first year of their life. The infant will go from being a sleepy baby in the first few weeks to being more alert, responsive and interactive with people whom they see on a daily basis. During this period, the child will develop a very close bond with their parents or caregivers and could even start imitating people and breaking into a smile from the age of 3 months.

When the child becomes more aware of their surroundings, they will start exploring and developing their own sense of belonging in the family. Once the child is fully aware of their surroundings and family members, they could also start showing signs of jealousy when a parent holds another baby. If this happens, you should not be too worried, as this is a normal sign of emotional development.

If you would like to know more about the stage of birth to 24 months, click here.

Toddler or preschool age (2 – 5 years old)



When the child starts walking, they will take on a whole new adventurous approach to life. They will start exploring on their own and their language skills will develop significantly. They will start naming objects and people and will start developing their own personality very quickly.

During this stage of their lives, they will start exploring their emotions and might even start throwing tantrums. During these moments, it is important that the parents or caregivers learn to teach the child the value of delayed gratification. In other words, they need to teach the child that they cannot get everything that they see. Just as the child learns to say ‘no’, they need to learn to accept hearing a ‘no’ from other people too.  (Source: Child Development Institute)


Schoolgoing age (6- 12)

Children of schoolgoing age


During this stage of a child’s life, they become a lot more independent and social. It is during this stage that a parent or caregiver needs to instil a good set of morals and accepted behaviour.

Some children may struggle to adapt to schooling, and according to the Child Development Institute, it’s important at this stage that parents are able to “provide praise and encouragement for achievement but parents must also be able to allow [children] to sometimes experience the natural consequences for their behavior or provide logical consequences to help them learn from mistakes.” 


Adolescent or teenager (13 – 18 years old)




The teenage years often pose the biggest challenges when it comes to parenthood. During this time, a child goes through many emotional and social changes.  Most 13- or 14-year-olds are going through puberty, which means you can expect a slight change in mood, sensitivity, and self-consciousness.

At around the age of 15, most children want to do things without their parents and want to be more social with friends.

According to, most teenagers at the age of 17 “are equipped to regulate their emotions. They’re less likely to lose their tempers and healthy teens know how to deal with uncomfortable feelings.” During this stage, they will develop and strengthen relationships with people they feel close to.

Please keep in mind that these developments are only some of the developments that will occur during these stages of a child’s life. Also, every child develops at his or her own pace, and the ages at which certain developments take place are not set in stone.


Why is it important to be familiar with the stages of a child’s emotional development?

A child’s environment can have a big impact on his or her behaviour and development. And as a parent or caregiver, you can help a child to develop to his or her full potential by:

  • Understanding the stages of emotional development and how they influence a child’s behaviour
  • Using this understanding to create an environment that fosters a child’s development


If you want to learn more about how you can help children reach their full potential, you can read the following articles: