He said that the new law is part of a range of actions intended to strengthen child protection, following a series of reports from the Child Protection Systems Review Group.
Children?s charities across the country are welcoming the news to update the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937, as the government recognises the impact of emotional abuse and neglect as well as physical harm.
According to NSPCC Scotland, updating the 80-year-old law was vital. The NSPCC also reported that over the past three years, there has been an increase of 61 per cent in the numbers of people concerned that a child was being neglected.
Reports by the Child Protection Systems Review Group were led by independent chair Catherine Dyer and the change in law was also a result of the Scottish government?s own child protection improvement programme report.
In addition to the new offence, the government will release a national child protection policy, outlining all responsibility and action across government in an attempt to support families and protect children.
The government has also said that it will consider the creation of a National Child Protection register and national standards for those carrying out significant case reviews.
Mr McDonald commented: "This government is determined to ensure more of Scotland?s children get the best possible start in life. This means protecting the most vulnerable in our communities from harm, abuse and neglect.
"We will introduce new legislation to make the emotional abuse and neglect of children a criminal offence, updating an 80-year old law whose archaic language has resulted in difficulties prosecuting offences."