Social and Emotional Development in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Cory Shulman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


As children move from infancy through early childhood, their social and emotional competence forms the underpinnings of their mental health. Infant and early childhood mental health and development shape this chapter, which integrates research in the biology of social emotional development, its behavioral manifestations, and the importance of social relationships for its development. This chapter discusses some developmental milestones (e.g., object permanence and behavior inhibition) which support social and emotional development in the first years of life, which the infant acquires at a very early stage, beginning almost immediately after birth with parent-child bonding. Temperamental factors, the constitutional characteristics which do not change as a result of experience, are also addressed. Following the development of a sense of self, the child develops a rudimentary theory of mind as he or she encounters evidence that different people have different feelings and thoughts. In recent years, empirical research has suggested that concern for others, previously thought to emerge only during the second year, may already be present in the first year of life.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationChildren's Well-Being
Subtitle of host publicationIndicators and Research
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameChildren's Well-Being: Indicators and Research
ISSN (Print)1879-5196
ISSN (Electronic)1879-520X

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016.


  • Bonding
  • Development of concern for others
  • Early theory of mind
  • Emotional development
  • Social development
  • Temperament


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