Of all nature’s transformations, none is as dramatic as the blossoming of a human child in the first years of life. The newborn infant, expert only at suckling, sleeping and crying, evolves by kindergarten age into a loving scheming, probing, teasing, feeling social being.
This journey toward emotional competence begins at the very moment of birth, when the baby emerges from the cushioned haven of the womb into a world of sudden, harsh sensation. There is blinding glare, a startling new temperature, the urgent pressure of hands giving care and oxygen abruptly pouring into untried lungs. The senses, for the moment, are the newborn’s greatest torment - but they are also her only tools. Forever after, the world will thrust at her a torrent of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations. Tiny and helpless as she is, the infant faces the first great task of her life she must learn to deal with the ceaseless stimulation of her senses, to use every sensory message as a lesson about her surroundings.
As you watch your child’s progress over the years, you will see milestones of physical, verbal and intellectual growth glide by like exist on a well marked highway. Signs of emotional progress are more difficult to detect. You may not even notice when your child first makes the connection between smiling and receiving affection in return, first mimics adult anger or uses a word to label some inner feeling. But these are critical steps in passage to emotional understanding. Each new achievement paves the way to further progress. And, in large measure, the course of this emotional journey determines the kind of person the child will someday become.