Parents or primary caregivers are among the most important influences on emotional development in early childhood. The nurturing and support children get from their parents helps them to not only feel loved and safe, but also to develop self-esteem. The fact that a parent or other primary caregiver pays attention to, cares for, and nurtures a child typically serves to make that child feel that he has a high level of worth. Likewise, the care a parent or primary caregiver shows a child may also help him develop caring relationships with other people.
At an early age, children usually begin to exhibit a wide range of emotions, and the response of parents and primary caregivers to these emotions can have a significant effect on emotional development in early childhood. By creating an environment in which children are not emotionally stifled but instead receive understanding for their emotions and help with managing them, parents and primary caregivers can help children learn to recognize, understand, and deal with emotions effectively. This can go a long way toward ensuring positive emotional development in early childhood and better management of emotions in years to come.
One example of a response to a child's emotions that could be seen as negative is denial. Telling children that they should not feel the way they do can negatively affect their development. Likewise, telling them that they will get over something denies their emotions. Additionally, saying that a child's emotions are morally wrong could work against his development.
The type of discipline a child receives in early childhood can also influence his emotional development. Typically, discipline methods that border on abusive are considered harmful to a child's development. Even some methods that aren't necessarily considered abusive can cause issues. For example, humiliating and shaming a child can have a negative effect on his emotional development. Likewise, telling a child he is bad can have a negative effect as well.
Even the emotional state of a child's parents or primary caregiver can have a significant effect on emotional development in early childhood. For example, if a child's parent is given to angry and poorly controlled outbursts, his child may have a difficult time dealing with angry emotions and managing them effectively. Likewise, if a parent withholds emotions, even if he does care for a child's physical needs, the child may have trouble expressing his emotions.