Handbook of Language and Literacy Development - a Roadmap from 0 to 60 Months

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Social and Emotional Development (0-60 Months)click to print Print

Affect: The expression of a feeling or mood that is associated with one's own ideas or the actions of others.

Attachment: The strong, affectional tie that humans feel toward special people, usually caregivers.

Basic emotions: Emotions that can be directly inferred from facial expressions, such as happiness, interest, surprise, fear, anger, sadness, and disgust.

Child (or infant) directed talk (CDTor IDT): A form of language adults use to speak to infants and toddlers that consists of short sentences with high pitched, exaggerated expression, clear-pronunciation, and distinct pauses between speech segments.

Contingent responding: Responding immediately to another when a particular behaviour or communication occurs.

Emotional self-regulation: Strategies for adjusting our emotional state to a comfortable level of intensity.

Empathy: The ability to understand another’s emotional state and feel for that person, or respond emotionally in a similar way.

False emotions: Behaviours such as facial expression, tone of voice, and gestures that are intended to trick others that a person is feeling an emotion that is not present. This may occur when a child wants to hide an emotion (e.g., feeling scared) from others.

Habituation: A gradual reduction in the strength of a response as the result of repetitive stimulation.

Imitation: Learning by copying the behaviour of another person. Also called modeling or observational learning.

Intentionality: An action or behaviour that is done on purpose, not by accident.

Interpersonal: Concerning or involving relationships between people.

Intersubjectivity: The process whereby two participants who begin a task with different understandings arrive at a shared understanding.

Joint attention: The ability to coordinate one’s attention with that of another in reference to an event or object.

Perspective taking: The capacity to imagine what other people may be thinking and feeling.

Prosocial behaviour: Actions that benefit another (i.e., helping, sharing, caring) without any expected reward for the self.

Self-concept: The set of attributes, abilities, attitudes, and values that an individual believes defines who he or she is.

Self-conscious emotions: Emotions that involve injury or enhancement of the sense of self. Examples are shame, embarrassment, guilt, envy, and pride.

Self-esteem: The development of feelings of one’s capabilities or worth.

Shared attention: The ability of co-ordinating one’s attention with another, also called co-ordinated attention.

Social referencing: Relying on a trusted person’s emotional reaction to decide how to respond in an uncertain situation.

Social responsiveness: The reactions of one to another person. This reaction may vary in intensity, timing, attitude, and frequency.

Social smile: The smile evoked by the stimulus of the human face and first appears between 6 and 10 weeks.

Subjective sense of self: Also, described as ‘self-referencing’ is an awareness that infants develop around 6 months that they are separate beings from their caregivers. This allows infants to become aware of their own needs and how to express them.

Temperament: Stable individual differences in quality and intensity of emotional reaction, activity level, attention, and emotional self-regulation.

Theory of Mind (ToM): A ‘theory of mind’ is also known as social understanding or social cognition and is the ability to understand how others think. It is a skill that children develop to interpret people’s desires, intentions, and beliefs.

Smith, V. (2008). Social and Emotional Development: Glossary. In L.M. Phillips (Ed.), Handbook of language and literacy development: A Roadmap from 0 – 60 Months. [online], pp. 1-2. London, ON: Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network. Available at: Handbook of language and literacy development>