Research suggests that sadness expressions may be more beneficial to children than other emotions when eliciting support from caregivers. It is unclear, however, when children develop the ability to regulate their displays of distress. The current study addressed this question. Distress facial expressions (e.g., fear, anger, and sadness) were examined in 24-month-old toddlers throughout 4 episodes as well as specifically during looks to their mothers. Consistent with hypotheses and the literature, toddlers expressed sadness more frequently and with more intensity than target emotions only during looks to their mothers. These findings indicate that toddlers as young as 24 months of age are using particular emotional displays to elicit support from the social environment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology