Component 3: Self-regulation

Learning Goal 3.a: Children develop the ability to express and regulate their own emotions.

By 9 months, most children:

  • Demonstrate the ability to self-soothe (calm down) through behaviors such as babbling, thumb/fist sucking, or rocking
  • Calm down when talked to, held, or rocked by a preferred caregiver
  • Express a range of emotions (e.g., joy, excitement, or sadness) through facial expressions, gestures, and sound

By 18 months, most children:

  • Self-soothe when offered a special toy or blanket in combination with caregiver nurturance
  • Look to a trusted adult for comfort when upset or stressed
  • Demonstrate joy, pleasure, and excitement in learning to do new things

By 24 months, most children:

  • Accept a security toy or blanket to self-soothe
  • Demonstrate familiarity with routines
  • Demonstrate strong emotions, such as anger, through actions (e.g., falling down on the floor and kicking their legs—throwing a “tantrum”) and calm down with caregiver assistance
  • Express emotions (e.g., happiness, sadness, or anger) through singing and pretend play (in addition to “tantrums”)

By 36 months, most children:

  • Calm themselves down after a temper tantrum in a reasonable amount of time with caregiver assistance
  • Comfort themselves by seeking out a special toy, object, or caregiver
  • Use words to express their emotions

By 48 months, most children:

  • Are increasingly able to regulate their impulses in certain situations (e.g., waiting their turn for a favored toy)
  • Can express emotions using words, signs, or other communication methods
  • Take pride in their accomplishments
  • Continue to use physical ways of expressing themselves when their feelings are intense (e.g., throwing things, pounding)

By 60 months, most children:

  • Control strong emotions most of the time in an appropriate manner
  • Persist at a difficult task with decreasing amounts of frustration
  • Can name emotions using words, signs, or other communication methods