So what plays more of a role in the emotional development of our children; our genes or our actions? It is the classic Nature vs. Nuture question. Are our children somehow predestined to act a certain way; or are they a blank slate -left for us to mold into who we want them to become? The answer is neither....or both, depending on how you want to look at it.
Drs. Goodwyn and Acredolo have a wonderfull book called Baby Hearts that addresses just this point. Researchers tell us that there are four inborn temperments in babies - Easy, Difficult, Slow-to-Warm, and Active (there's your nature). As parents, it is up to us to "plant the seeds of faith, truth, and love" in order to help our children develop good character, virtue, and happiness into their lives (there's your nurture).
I've never had a mother say to me that she just didn't care what kind of person her child grew up to be. On the contrary, most mothers will tell you that they just want their children to be happy. Of course the word "happy" conjures up different images for all people - but all are dependent on healthy emotional development. And as with most lessons in life, the sooner you begin to learn, the more lasting the impression will be.
Teaching young infants, toddlers and preschoolers the signs for emotions such as "happy", "grumpy", "sad", "mad", "silly", and any others that are fitting, will allow them to understand their emotions at an early age - and the emotions of others. Understanding emotions is part of healthy development.
Food for thought: Children who do not have a good handle on expressing their emotions are more apt to have low self-esteem, and bully others when faced with difficult emotional situations.