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How Parents Affect a Child's Socialization

by Anna Green

As a parent, you provide your child with her first glimpse of social behavior -- how to manage conflicts, converse with others and navigate day-to-day interactions. Likewise, the degree to which you bond with your child can set her up to have either positive or negative social interactions in her early childhood years and as she reaches adolescence.

Modeling Behaviors

One of the simplest ways that parents affect socialization is by modeling how to interact with others. For example, if a child sees her mother talking with friends, seeking out new connections and confidently talking to new people, she might display these behaviors in her own social interactions. Likewise, if you are shy, insecure or are uncomfortable in social contexts, you child might grow up believing that interpersonal interactions are threatening or difficult to navigate.

Attachment

Your child’s attachment to you or her other parent can have significant effects on her social interactions. “When her new brain develops in a loving and gentle environment, it makes a pattern to be loving and gentle, and that pattern stays with her forever,” explains Ready for Life, an organization that focuses on emotional health in young children.” Likewise, Ready for Life states that if a child does not have a strong bond with you or another caregiver, she might feel mistrustful of others and have difficulty forming meaningful social relationships.

Discipline

If you have an authoritarian parenting style, you may foster timid attitudes in children. When you “demand obedient, conforming, and dependent offspring, [you] may have children who are never really comfortable exploring the world for themselves," states C. Seefeldt, author of " Social Studies for the Preschool/Primary Child.” On the other hand, Seefeldt explains that parents who maintain discipline while explaining the reasons behind rules -- particularly to younger children -- can raise children who are both socially competent and complaint with community and school rules.

Gender Roles

In addition to affecting how your child interacts with others, your views about gender roles can influence how a child views her place in society. Susan D. Witt, Ph.D. of the University of Akron explains that a child's ideas of what it means to be a girl or a boy can affect hid self-concept and behaviors. For example, if you teach your son that it is not appropriate for boys to play with dolls and only with trucks or sports-related toys, he will likely carry these social expectations with him into adult life and behave accordingly. Likewise, if you teach your daughter that females should be natural nurturers, she may adopt this social role and choose a caring-oriented career such as a nurse or teacher, based on early gender expectations.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

Photo Credits

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