Age and emotional development

Reference Chart for Development of Emotions by Age group:  





Development of Emotions


Stable, well-balanced periods occur around 4, 16, 28, 40 and 52 weeks Periods of imbalance occur often around 8, 20, 32, and 44 weeks.

18 months

Acts on impulse. Is insistent, demanding. Not much trouble with own emotions, but has trouble with other people's. Wants own demands met here and now. Not very adaptable or cuddly. Easily frustrated; attention span extremely short. Loves the outdoors and carriage/stroller rides.

21 months

More demanding and less adaptable. Dependent. Has strong needs and demands, but cannot communicate them. May resist being touched.

2 years

Less demanding. More adaptable. Tends to be quiet and calm. Willing to cuddle and accept affection.

2 ½ years

Great imbalance. Moves between extremes of aggression and withdrawal. Bossy, rigid, selfish, possessive, jealous. Likes sameness, repetition, predictability; changes are very hard, even minor ones; toys, etc. all have a "proper place.'

3 years

Often time of emotional calm. May be happy, contented much of the time. Gets along well with others. Likes others and wants to please them.

3 ½ years

Difficult age. Is uncertain, unsettled, insecure, yet is stubborn, demanding -unwilling or unable to give in or adapt. Tends to be fearful, unhappy. Child's big emotional struggle 'is with his/her mother (she is the only worthy opponent); enjoys talking/conversation, time of great motor uncertainty and fluctuating fine motor capabilities. At this age, children are much better with almost anyone other than the principal caregiver.

4 years

Energetic, out-of-bounds. May go to extremes to test self against others. Often enjoys own impish, humorous ways. May be selfish, rough, impatient, loud. Loves adventure. Socially silly and larger-than-life manners may annoy adults.

5 years

Tends to be calm, quiet, well-balanced. Pulls in and usually tries only what he knows he can do, so is comfortably well-adjusted: Friendly, loving, appreciative. Wants to please and do the right things; wants and means to be good; not yet able to admit to wrongdoing and as much as he tries, does not always tell the truth.

5 ½ - 6


Highly emotional. Not in good balance. Loves one minute, hates the next. Much confusion and trouble between self and others. May demand, rebel, argue, fight. When in good mood, is cheerful, energetic, enthusiastic. Needs much praise, but behavior often merits criticism. This only makes behavior worse. Not able yet to tell the difference between mine and yours.

6 ½ years

Behavior quiets down for a few months. Usually relates strongly and warmly to adults close to them. Brief periods of being happy with themselves. Money is becoming of real interest both as an allowance and as a reward. Eager for more possessions.

7 years

Quiet, rather negative emotions. May be serious, self-absorbed, moody, worrisome, or suspicious. Very sensitive to others' emotions. May feel disliked by others and that they are critical or poking fun. Procrastinates, has a short memory, and is easily distracted; often completely tunes out the outside world.

8 years

Vigorous, dramatic, curious, impatient, demanding. Not as moody as 7, but still sensitive. Very demanding of: parents, especially mother; strongly influenced by her wishes and desires; wants time, attention, affection and approval; beginning to think abstractly: interested in and concerned about own possessions. Easily disappointed, if people don't behave as wished.  Can be quite critical of others and self. Argumentative.

9 years

Quieter than at 8. Seems to be independent, responsible, dependable, cooperative. May sometimes be temperamental, but is basically reasonable. May be age of considerable rebellion against authority; tend to go to extremes; will take criticism fairly well if carefully phrased; great interest in fairness; group standards may be more important than parental standards. Demanding of others, but likely to be as critical of self as of others. Very involved with self and may not hear when spoken to. May appear absent-minded or indifferent. Shows anger at parents, but is also proud of them, is loyal to family, friends. May show concern for others.

10 years

Emotionally direct simple, clear-cut usually well-balanced, yet still childlike. Less anxious and demanding than at 9. Most often good natured and pleased with life, But may show sharp, violent temper. Can be very affectionate. Not a worrying age; yet a few earlier fears remain. Enjoys own humor; which may not be very funny to others. Happy age.


Funding for this program provided by the Department of Health and Human Services