Socialization is the act of spending time and communicating with others. It’s also the process of learning the behaviors and belief systems of society. Children should engage in diverse social situations to spend time with others, learn from them, and practice many important life skills they need to be successful. In addition, when your children socialize with peers, you can better understand how your child compares to their peers in terms of meeting important developmental milestones and help you identify any milestones that your child hasn’t hit yet, that way you can talk to your pediatrician.
Here are five important ways socialization impacts your child’s emotional, cognitive, and personality development.
Hitting Key Milestones
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Socialization challenges your children (in a good way!) at every age, allowing them to better strive for, reach, and surpass important milestones in their cognitive development. Babies are more likely to be smiling at others, paying attention to faces, recognizing certain people, as well as babbling and eventually forming words when they socialize with others. Children can better hit the communication and emotional intelligence milestones when they’re socializing with other children their age.
It’s not just the cognitive milestones that socialization can impact. Your children may be interested in moving around more when they’re able to socialize with others. For example, infants may be more challenged to crawl when they socialize with other babies who are already crawling or even toddlers on the run. Toddlers may be better able to start walking more confidently and even running when they socialize with other toddlers and older children with more developed motor skills or adults cheering them on.
Developing a Unique Identity Within Society
Your child is a unique person with their own thoughts, feelings, imagination, goals, and dreams. And when your child socializes, they are better able to develop thoughts and ideas from scratch, challenge their own perspectives, and figure out where they stand in the world. For example, your kids can play with other kids and develop new facets of their imagination and the ways they play. They can also come into contact with new cultures and beliefs when they spend time with friends’ families, and they can discuss or argue different concepts with fellow students, teachers, and adults.
In a sociological sense, socialization also helps children better understand the culture they come from, the beliefs of those around them (like family and friends), and how to behave properly in society. So, while socialization can help them become their own person, it also allows kids to find ways to fit in and stand out.
Improving Communication Abilities
Kids learn to use both verbal and nonverbal communication at a very young age, and as previously mentioned, there are communicative milestones that children should hit as they grow up. Children become more effective at communicating clearly by practicing in social situations with family, friends, teachers, and strangers. And the more diverse and frequent socialization situations your children are in, the more adept they can become at communicating through speaking, listening, and reading body language.
Babies go from crying to pointing at things and cooing and saying small words and phrases, all through socialization with their parents or caregivers and others they meet. They babble to each other, and even though it may sound like adorable nonsense to you, these sounds are their way of communicating with one another. Toddlers and children grow their vocabulary, learn how to form sentences, and even write through social situations, like everyday time with the family, playtime with friends, lessons with you, and more.
Socialization with other children allows kids to understand how their actions and words can affect others and how others impact them. This can help kids develop and practice the skills related to emotional intelligence and moderating their emotions. That way they can become more mindful of how they act around others and learn to show respect and kindness to peers, friends, family, and strangers.
Interactions at home also count as socialization, and children learn what to do (and what not to do) when they’re upset, angry, frustrated, sad, or experience other negative emotions by watching others. They might see how you act on your emotions in a situation and then mimic that in the future. In addition, they also learn from how you as their parent or caregiver react to their emotions. That means it’s incredibly important to discuss with your children how they’re feeling and how it’s best to handle those emotions so they can learn effective emotion control.
Expressing Thoughts and Feelings
Combining communication and emotion control, socialization also helps children learn to effectively and productively express how they’re feeling, whether it be a positive or negative emotion. Through socialization, they can practice telling you, their friends, and their teachers when they’re happy or sad or angry. And kids learn whether they’ve done so effectively based on how the person they’re speaking with reacts. For example, you may ask your child to clarify what they mean, or their friend may agree with how they feel and be able to comfort them.
In addition, socialization enables children to become better communicators and allows them to more clearly tell others about their ideas, dreams, and goals. Your child being able to tell you and everyone else what they want to be when they grow up is so important for them to get feedback and support on this goal. Your child being able to tell you a silly story they came up with allows them to express their creativity. And they can spend their time at school, with friends, or with family practicing sharing these thoughts with others, which further develops their personality.
At Crème de la Crème, we use a whole-child curriculum that provides your children with many socialization opportunities with peers and teachers. For example, we incorporate baby sign language in classes with our youngest students to help them develop more effective communication and self-expression earlier, and our Promoting Alternative Thinking Skills (PATHS) program helps young students develop key friendship skills and robust emotional development. Contact your local Crème de la Crème school to learn more about how our programs can help your child thrive.