The Importance of Socialization in Childhood
Human beings are social beings. We spend our entire lives interacting with others and integrating into society. Our social relationships help protect us from stress and lead to improved mental and physical health. Keep reading to learn about the importance of socialization in childhood.
The pace of life in modern Western society demands that people operate in different social systems in which they must play various and unclear roles. To do so well, humans require certain social skills.
Socialization is the process that allows us to learn and internalize the norms of society, acquire the ability to develop ourselves socially, and build an identity through interaction with others. As you can see, socialization is a key process to our development as people.
Socialization in childhood: Stages and agents
The process of socialization is divided into two main stages:
- Primary socialization. It’s an individual’s first contact with their environment and the people within it. During this stage, children acquire the most basic skills, mainly through practice and imitation of what they see and are taught. It’s essentially an informal process in which the primary agent of socialization is family. The child will learn values from and build their first bonds with their family. During this stage, nurseries or kindergartens and the media are also important agents of socialization.
- Secondary socialization. It’s a more formal learning process in which the person acquires more complex and abstract skills. Schools and other institutions are its main agents. During this process, the child discovers new worlds beyond their family and begins to understand hierarchies.
But what role do parents play in this process? What can we do to offer our children proper socialization?
Socialization and family
As we mentioned above, family is the primary agent of socialization in childhood, and also the most important one.
The way parents interact with their children will give them the keys to building their identity and shaping their behavior. In addition, each socializing act will have a future impact on the child’s personality.
The influence of temperament
Temperament plays a key role in the ability to socialize during childhood. Temperament is innate and manifests from the first moments of a baby’s life.
Some children are active, fearless, more responsive to their environment, and aren’t afraid of exploring. Others, however, are quiet, calm, and cautious. They tend to cling to their attachment figures and aren’t naturally inclined to explore their surroundings.
This is a major issue since, according to Buck (1991), uninhibited children often create more socially enriching environments due to their way of being and reacting. The people around them tend to stimulate them more and pay them more attention.
Meanwhile, inhibited children can create environments devoid of stimuli, thus missing out on many opportunities to socialize and learn the rules that govern socialization.
Therefore, no matter your children’s temperament, make sure to provide them a stimulating and enriching environment full of opportunities to develop their social skills and interact with their environment without fear.
Another very important aspect is the parenting style exerted by the parents, as it’ll provide children basic guidelines on how to see the world and how to relate to it.
Children need democratic and assertive parents who listen to their feelings and teach them to manage them as they’re encouraged to explore and make decisions for themselves. Parents also should set consistent and reasonable boundaries.
Ultimately, children need parents who instill the belief in their children that the world is a positive and safe place, and that they’re capable of developing in it.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Buck R. (1991) Temperament, Social Skills, and the Communication of Emotion. In: Gilbert D.G., Connolly J.J. (eds) Personality, Social Skills, and Psychopathology. Perspectives on Individual Differences. Springer, Boston, MA. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4899-0635-9_4