Abbotsford Early Years

Resources and events for children 0 to 6 years and their families

Emotional Maturity

Please note: All children develop at their own rate. This information should be used as a guide. If you have concerns please talk to your doctor or a public health nurse.

Emotional development is learning to like ourselves. Learning how to manage and appropriately express their own emotions. Social and emotional development often come hand in hand since how a child fairs socially often impacts his or her emotional well-being.

Emotional Maturity Includes:

  • Pro-social behaviour: helping, tolerance, empathy;
  • As opposed to: aggressive behaviour, anxiety, hyperactivity, inattention, impulsiveness.

General Sample Questions:
Is your child able to concentrate? Is your child aggressive or angry?
Is your child impulsive (does he/she act without thinking)?
*Please note: these questions would depend on the age of the child.

Ages & Stages

Find out more about typical development for ages 0 to 5 along with activities you can do with your child and red flags to be aware of.

  • Begins to smile at people
  • Can briefly calm themselves (may bring hands to mouth and suck on hand)
  • Startles at loud noises

Activities For Your Baby:

  • Speak to your baby frequently; call out their name to help them locate sounds
  • Gently rub and massage your baby’s arms, back, legs and tummy
  • Place an interesting mobile above the crib

Red Flags:

  • Show no reaction to sound.
  • Child arches their back frequently.
  • Body posture is floppy or limp.
  • Doesn’t watch things as they move
  • Doesn’t bring hands to mouth
  • Smiles spontaneously, especially at people
  • Likes to play with people and might cry when playing stops

Activities For Your Baby:

  • Enjoy cuddle time with your baby
  • Babies learn when you talk about things your baby sees, hears, and feels
  • Encourage your baby to look at you or a toy and get him to follow its movement slowly

Red Flags:

  • Hands are tightly fisted
  • Child moves one arm towards a toy but the other arm remains still
  • Legs are stiffly crossed
  • Infant is not responding to friendly cuddles and care
  • Doesn’t coo or make sounds
  • Like to look at self in a mirror
  • May express several different clear emotions

Activities For Your Baby:

  • Read picture books, talk about the pictures, tell stories
  • Hold a rattle a short distance from bay’s hand and let her reach for it
  • Show actions for “bye-bye” and “blow kisses”

Red Flags:

  • Child squints or an eye is turning in or out.
  • Does not engage in babbling or vocal play
  • Consistently has difficulty with soothing
  • Child seems very stiff, with tight muscles or very floppy
  • Has difficulty getting things to mouth
  • Has favorite toy
  • May be afraid of strangers
  • Start to understand your different emotions

Activities For Your Baby:

  • Let him feed himself during family meals
  • Provide a variety of safe toys to explore and play with
  • Roll ball back and forth between you encourages turn taking

Red Flags:

  • Stands on tiptoes rather than on flat feet.
  • Has difficulty moving from a sitting position to hand and knees.
  • Child has difficulty crawling, for instance, using only one side of their body.
  • Doesn’t respond to own name
  • Doesn’t look to where you point
  • Have fear with new situations
  • Give affection and love

Activities For Your Baby:

  • Read interactive story books where child can point, imitate and name animals or objects
  • Encourage walking with ride-on toys
  • Have child point to parts of her body when asked

Red Flags:

  • Recurrent ear infections between 6months and 1 year.
  • Child is not yet crawling or pulling to stand at furniture
  • Doesn’t say single words like “mama” or “dada”
  • Can’t stand when supported
  • Has trouble grasping small toys with fingers
  • Show affection to familiar people

Activities For Your Baby:

  • Begins to introduce items that encourage imaginative play such a brooms, telephones, pots and pans
  • Do simple shape puzzles and read with your child
  • Expand on what your child says. “car” – “yes, the car is going”

Red Flags:

  • Arms held in a stiff bent position.
  • Does not respond to own name or recognize words for familiar objects
  • Does not show interest in other children or relate to others
  • Child is not yet standing or walking independently
  • Is not yet talking or has lost previously acquired language skills
  • Begin to feel jealousy when they are not the centre of attention

Activities For Your Baby:

  • Teach your child sharing and turn taking within your relationship first
  • Offer simple choices (Do you want milk or water?)
  • Use songs to assist in transitions such a “clean up, clean up”

Red Flags:

  • Up on toes when running,
  • Poor balance or frequent tripping
  • Does not use eye contact or gestures when communicating
  • Unable to follow simple instructions
  • Displays repetitive mannerisms (flapping hands)
  • Show affection with words and actions
  • Recognizes and responds to other children's feeling
  • Shows a wide range of emotions

Activities For Your Baby:

  • Take your child to a playgroup or preschool where he can learn to interact and play with children his own age
  • Talk with your child about feelings and emotions. Help him learn to identify and name them
  • Provide simple puzzles and sorting games

Red Flags:

  • It is difficult to get child’s attention
  • Avoids contact with other children, plays alone
  • Trip or fall often when walking or running
  • Shows a lack of empathy when others are sad or hurt
  • Drools or has very unclear speech
  • Talks about what she likes and what he is interested in
  • May show concern and sympathy for younger children when they are upset

Activities For Your Baby:

  • Encourage your child not to give up on tasks or games
  • When outdoors, talk about things you see and do
  • Teach your child her name, phone number and address

Red Flags:

  • Child’s speech is difficult to understand.
  • Stuttering
  • Does not show any feeling when they hurt others
  • Can’t jump in place
  • Resists dressing, sleeping and using the toilet
  • Expresses emotions and may be able to name her feelings

Activities For Your Baby:

  • Draw with your child and talk about her drawing, hang her art in a special place
  • Make an ‘all about me’ book with your child (include things they like, friends, favorite food, games etc.)
  • Tell a story of your child’s life from birth to present

Red Flags:

  • Doesn’t show a wide range of emotions
  • Doesn’t talk about daily activities or experiences
  • Is easily distracted, has trouble focusing on one activity for more than 5 minutes
  • Can’t give first or last name
  • Hurts animals or others on purpose