Emotional Development in Young Children

Susanne A. Denham

July 23, 1998
ISBN 9781572303607
Price: $34.00
260 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"

The ability to express, understand, and regulate emotions is a crucial element in individual functioning and interpersonal interaction. This important volume presents a fresh look at early child development by exploring the very beginnings of emotional competence in young children. What do toddlers and preschoolers understand about their own and other people's feelings? What are the connections between emotions, socialization, and healthy relationships? How do changes in other areas of development, like cognition, fuel emotional competencies? What problems ensue when emotional development is delayed, and how can they be ameliorated? Including numerous case studies, original findings, and an extensive review of the literature, the book sheds light on the emotional experience of the very young and points toward exciting directions for future research.

“An interesting and helpful book. Denham presents a thorough review and integration of findings on emotion expression, several facets of emotion knowledge, and emotion regulation. I found the book immediately useful, and I expect that will also be true for other researchers, as well as parents and teachers.”

—Carroll E. Izard, Unidel Professor, Psychology, University of Delaware

“A unique, timely review of research on the vital role that emotions play in young children's experience. Engaging and well-written, this volume is certain to make a significant contribution to the ongoing debate on how and why children's emotions influence, and sometimes motivate, their functioning. Academicians will appreciate the thorough, scholarly treatment. The foundation provided for understanding, and treating, children at risk for emotional problems will be of special interest to clinicians. Filled with examples based on everyday scenarios, the analysis of the early origins of the self-conscious emotions of pride, shame, guilt, embarrassment, and lying is particularly fascinating. In sum, this is an exceptional volume, one that combines lucidity with depth and substance on an absolutely fundamental, but nonetheless elusive, phenomenon of early human development.”

—E. Mark Cummings, PhD, University of Notre Dame

“This comprehensive book captures the delight, discovery, and drama of the emotional world of the developing child, offering a close look at the behaviors and competencies that define and change preschoolers' emotional and social lives. Denham's well-respected work on young children also has important implications for the wider concept of 'emotional competence'—an area that is fundamental to who we are and how we are with others. Integrating scholarly material with real-life examples, the book will be useful to students, educators, and others concerned with the subjective and social worlds children live in and share with us. It provides an impressive integration and unified consideration of findings from related developmental areas.”

—Janet Strayer, PhD, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

“This book provides an exciting and comprehensive view of emotional development in the preschool years and fills an important void in developmental psychology. Denham has done an excellent job of blending research and theory with compelling depictions of the real emotional world of young children.”

—Mark T. Greenberg, PhD, Bennett Chair of Prevention Research, Pennsylvania State University

“This is an exciting time for a close look at very young children's emotions....This book is especially welcome for its theme, the thorough review of research that it provides, and the many questions that it raises. The place of emotions in the lives of toddlers and preschoolers, not to mention their parents, surely deserves our serious attention, and we should be grateful to Susanne Denham for setting out so clearly what we do know and what we yet need to know.”

—from the Foreword by Judy Dunn, PhD, Institute of Psychiatry

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Emotional Expressiveness

3. Understanding of Emotions

4. Socialization of Emotional Expressiveness and


5. Emotional Regulation

6. Contributions of Emotional Expressiveness,

Understanding, and Coping to Social Competence

7. Disruptions in the Development of Emotional

Competence and Interventions to Ameliorate Them

About the Author

Susanne A. Denham, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. She received her doctorate in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County in 1985. Previously, she worked as a school psychologist with preschoolers and infants for 11 years.


Students, instructors, and researchers in child psychology and early childhood education; clinical child and school psychologists.

Serves as a text for advanced undergraduate and graduate-level courses.