SocialDevelopment of Children
There is no doubt that man is a social animal. Social isolation isnot only looked down upon but is perceived to be a pointer to otherproblems. Several researchers have developed sociological theories toexplain their phenomena especially in regards to children and howthey learn to be social.
Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory of systems posits that anindividual’s socialization process is influenced by five types ofenvironments namely macrosystem, exosystem, mesosystem, microsystemand chronosystem. Each of these systems has unique norms and rulesthat shape a child’s psychological development and theirsocialization development.
Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory is identifies socialneeds and ranks them accordingly. Socialization as a lifelong processof social interaction through which individuals acquire self-identityand the physical, mental, and social skills needed for survival insociety, is driven by the needs identified by Maslow in his theory.
Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development posits thatindividuals go through eight stages of social development startingfrom infancy into late adulthood. Each stage needs to be successfullycompleted otherwise failure to do so will result in the challenges ofskipping some activities in earlier stages reappearing later. Otherfactors contribute to social development of children.
Socioeconomic status (SES) influences the socialization process forchildren and even adults. According to Maslow hierarchy of needstheory, the socioeconomic situation determines the availability ofbasic needs which may hamper the development to higher level needs.Studies have revealed that social economic status affects mentalhealth, physical health and psychological health of children. SESalso influences access to quality education. Higher quality educationis associated with better physical and mental health. Children fromlow SES show significantly poorer academic performance at school, aremore likely to be absent at school, are more prone to violence andabuse.
Education levels of parents play a large role in social developmentand also predict income levels. This means that such children fromwell-educated parents have access to better environments thatfacilitate child development better. For children, educationalinstitutions play an integral role in socialization and developmentin children as they act as a major social agent. SES usuallydetermines the type of school that children attend with environmentsin these institutions varying greatly.
Diana Baumrind`s theory of parenting styles posits that parentscreate unique environments that influence development of children.Authoritative parenting involves setting basic rules and guidelinesthat children should follow. The parents answer any questions thatthe children may bring up pertaining to the rules and oftentimesexplain the reason behind every rule. Where such rules are notfollowed, the parents choose to support the children and nurture theminto following the rules rather punishing them.
Permissive parenting, also called indulgent parenting, involvesparents making very few demands and expectations from their children.As a result, there is definite no mode of disciplining them are thereare no clear expectations. Such parents avoid confrontations andallow children to self-regulate which does not happen in most cases.
The third style is the authoritarian style. It involves parentssetting strict rules which they expect to be followed by children.Failure to follow rules results in punishment. The parents usually donot give rational explanation behind the rules and the term “becauseI said so” rules supreme. Beyond parents, the larger family alsoplays an integral role in shaping children’s development.
The family is the first environment that children interact with asthey develop. Family influences a behavioral development in youngchildren as they imitate and learn from family members. Once theyattain a certain age, usually school going age, the children interactwith a wider group such as school mates and neighbors. They get tolean new behaviors and expand their knowledge.
It is clear that the family and community play integral role in thedevelopment of children both physically, cognitively and socially.The two levels influence and mold the individual and influence thedevelopment of personal traits and how they interact with peopleclose to them. Different theories suggest different patterns ofsocialization but all agree that the environment that childrendevelop in plays an integral role.
Berns, Roberta,Child, Family, School, Community: Socialization and Support.New York: Cengage Learning, 2012.