"Health & Happiness is beyond the physical. It's a point of view and mental attitude that you have about your self, your life and your relationships."


Integrative Health, Psychology and Relationship Support

Emotional Development: 101

Posted by: Dr. Tina Morse PsyD, MFT

Topic: Emotions, Passion & Purpose


Our emotions play a critical role in our development. They are innate modes of communication that help us thrive and survive. At birth, infants are only capable of experiencing basic emotional states that reflect contentment, interest, or distress to a parent or caretaker. Well-bonded and connected parents respond quicker, reflect positive energy, and spend more quality time interacting with their infant.  A well-attuned parent is generally able to discern what their infant needs. Primary caretakers help children learn to regulate their emotions through empathizing, soothing, emotional validation; and modeling emotional expression that mirrors their child’s internal emotional state.

There are 8 primary emotions that are reflected through a variety of experiences: trust, joy, anticipation, surprise, sadness, fear, disgust, and anger.  At 2 – 4 months, a baby develops a social smile and evidence of happiness is evident.  4 – 6 month old babies develop the six basic emotions that are universally understood and expressed: surprise, excitement, joy, sadness, fear, and disgust.  These basic emotions continue to be developed and expressed by the child and they expand in bigger and broader ways from age 6 months.

  • Fear triggers hormones in the body that signal and warn us of potential threats, or danger. A rise in adrenaline heightens our awareness and facilitates the fight or flight response as a means of self-defense, or to help us escape from physical harm.
  • Sadness helps us seek help and comfort; as it signals a loss of something valuable.
  • Anger is developed between ages 9 – 12 months and helps us to remain on purpose. It attempts to block goal destruction by parental objects; and later to become more assertive or aggressive in order to impact a perceived threat.

Secondary emotions are developed early and learned over time through life experience and expressiveness in the family. These include four pairs of opposites and emotional blends of primary emotions that overlap. For example: sad + surprise = disappointment. Toddlers between 18 – 24 months become more self conscious and learn to feel shame or embarrassment, as well as experience a sense of pride.

Children mimic the way we as parents handle our emotions and relate to others.  We must teach our children to cope with their more negative emotions.  For example, how to be angry and deal with conflict and loss in a healthy way, and to know that it is a part of life.  Psycho-social education should include teaching parents how a volatile environment (with high emotional intensity) causes a heightened positive or negatively charged emotional state that escalates in children.  You can see this clearly depicted in the inner circle of Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (above).  The wheel also reflects how opposing emotional states (for example) maladaptive grief and sadness can be heavily influenced and transformed to a greater sense of joy, by accessing experiences of serenity.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Follow Life Dr.® Tina Morse

Sign-up to receive your FREE MEMBERSHIP to our online Library + LifeDrTV and Radio

Upcoming Events


"It has been my pleasure to work as a colleague of Tina Morse. Among the strengths that I have consistently observed while working with Tina (in treatment team), is her ability to balance rapid assessment of the problem to the formulation and implementation of the treatment plan, while maintaining the ability to be an empathetic and sensitive listener. Tina intuitively understands what the client struggles with in terms of family of origin issues, current stressors, emotional states, social networks, physical health, coping skills, and interpersonal conflict. I recommend her without reservation.”

~ Catherine Pechnick, M.S.W., Department of Psychiatry – Cedars-Sinai Hospital

“Divorce can be very painful and it can lower your self-esteem.  Tina helped me believe in myself again and is teaching me how to take better care of myself.  Now I am dating and creating a dream life that I would have never have thought possible.  Tina walks the talk and is a wealth of information.”

~ Kathy

“She’s insightful, supportive, encouraging, motivating, and helpful.”

~ Tracey

Dear Tina,  “Thanks for counseling me.  I feel that you were there for me and genuinely interested in what I had to say.  I got to levels that I hadn’t gotten to before and I really appreciate that.  You have a very loving presence and it made it easier for me.”

~ Brent

“Thank you ever so much for your support and encouragement.  My life as a writer, is moving forward in a brighter light.  You continue to inspire my life and heart.”

~ Jen

"We are all capable of being teachers, healers and ministers.  Tina Morse’s brilliant website LifeDr.com helps on the journey.  It is filled with hope and inspiration just like her.”

~ Michael Levine, Best-Selling Author


Life Dr.® Programs + Products that Make a Difference!


Love Mastery

How to Attract the Love of Your Life by Transforming Your Relationship with Yourself!

In this virtual program,  I’ll help empower and support you to …

Learn More Here

Career + Financial Mastery

How to Transform Your Relationship to your Finances and Cash in on You!

In this virtual program,  I’ll inspire and support you to …

Learn More Here

Health & Wellness Mastery

How to Heal Yourself and Feel Well Nourished through Loving Self-Care and A Healthy Home & Kitchen!

In this virtual program,  I’ll inspire and support you to …

Learn More Here


A 12 month program that includes the following 3 month programs:

+ 3 mo of mentoring with Dr. Tina Morse

*Buy these programs individually or together as a 12 month Life Mastery program  Learn More Here