Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Toddler Years

How do self-conscious emotions reflect the emergence of the self?

The emergence of self-conscious emotions is another consequence of the concept of the self. One cannot feel shame if there is no self to feel bad about. The emotions of shame, embarrassment, pride, and jealousy are recognizable from about eighteen months on. Shame or embarrassment is evident when children lower their eyes, hide their face, or hang their head. While such emotions may be painful for the child, they are critical tools for socializing behavior. Humans are profoundly social animals, and a child needs to learn to inhibit various impulses and emotions in order to successfully function in a social world. Self-conscious emotions create an inborn motivational system to avoid social disapproval and to seek out social approval.


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