Play dates and playground trips may seem like just a routine way to keep your little ones busy, but socialization is an important developmental tool. Every interaction your kid has helps him learn language skills, ways to cope with emotions and how to work within social norms. The concepts may seem technical, but socialization and healthy child development go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Socialization starts when your baby is born and continues into adulthood, where it shapes each stage of development. Every play date, class, party and sport teaches your kids to manage stress, resolve conflict and fit into "the group." "One of the most dramatic impacts on a child's education is that of the socialization process," says Ralph G. Perrino, who owns the North Virginia Tutoring Service and has a doctorate in education leadership. As a mom, you can help your kid process his interactions with other people, all of whom leave him with a lasting sense of his place in the world.
The Role of the Family
Your family provides your kid's first lesson in socialization. "Stated simply, socialization is the process whereby individuals, especially children, become functioning members of a particular group and take on the values, behaviors and beliefs of the groups other members," says Carolyn R. Tomlin, who has worked in early childhood education for 33 years.
Your shared values, religion and culture all give a reassuring structure to your young child's early experiences. Developmentally, trust of the family is crucial for a secure and confident child. Children learn to trust as they watch you and your extended family show love, anger, joy and sadness and learn how to celebrate, disagree, work and play.