Through play, you can help your baby to communicate emotions!
Babies express their emotions from birth through posture, voice and facial expressions. All of these help us, as parents to care for our babies and enable us to adapt our behaviour depending on the emotional state of our child.
Expressing emotion is one of the very first tools available to babies for communicating with other people.
For the first 6 months, your baby will express emotion based on how they feel at that precise moment. Emotions are very simple at first usually fitting into pleasure and displeasure. Babies begin to feel fear around 7 months due to a leap in cognitive development as they realise they can be separate from you. Around this time, your baby begins to understand cause and effect and starts to learn that anger can be useful.
Stages of Expression
Please remember all ages are a guideline and all babies are different
2-3 months - Spontaneous smile
4 months - Spontaneous laughter. Begin to distinguish the different emotions others express
2-6 months - Express feelings such as anger, sadness, surprise and fear
6 months - Begin to mimic the emotions and expressions they see in others
8 months - become more clingy and prefer you to other adults. Begin to withdraw from strangers and be more anxious meeting new people
9 months - Have learned to express a variety of emotions
10 months - give loving cuddles
11 months - Begin to regulate their emotions
Model Appropriate Expression
This is a huge feature of our Baby Drama classes because it's so important!
We can help our babies learn to express their feelings and emotions and also how they learn to understand other people's feelings.
We all experience feelings of sadness, excitement, anger, elation and frustration, just like our children do. We can positively help our babies deal with these emotions by showing them ways of dealing with our emotions. It's never too early to show your baby what different feelings are or how people react to them.
Label Feelings And Emotions
Recognise the emotion, name the emotion and describe why they are feeling the emotion
Your baby is upset "perhaps you're upset because you are tired"
They're excited "you're excited because we are going to the park"
Your baby is frustrated with a toy "You are mad. Can I help?"
When they hurt themselves "Ow! That hurt. Shall mummy kiss it better?"
Remember to expand their vocabulary by using different feeling words - sad, upset, unhappy.
It is important to discuss positive and negative emotions as this will help them to be more open in later years.
Play Ideas For Encouraging Emotions
- Make music with your baby: singing or making sounds with simple toys
- Use touch: tickle baby's feet and try rhymes such as This Little Piggy
- Messy Play: sand, jelly, mud, paints etc This can help older baby's get use to the way different things make them feel
- Use puppets: simple puppets can help to explain simple emotions