Socialisation is a learning process that begins shortly after birth. The first social relationship is a child’s interaction with immediate family members and caregivers. A child learns to understand that he is a part of the family. He acquires his first experience of being treated as a person in his own right. It is then that he acquires language and learns the fundamentals of his culture. This phase is also when much of his personality takes shape. For instance, children are influenced by their parents’ choice of dress, manners, speech and educational motivation.
Society is a web of social relationships. Each interpersonal relationship influences and moulds the personality of a child. While much of the human personality is determined by genetics, a child will change and adapt to the social, emotional and physical needs that he feels.
Early childhood is the period for the most intense and crucial socialisation. The child learns how to interact with his parents, caregivers and other people around him. As he grows older he imbibes the skills to develop distinctive behaviours, attitudes and also belief systems.
A child learns values to behave in a manner acceptable to civil society from his parents and other caregivers at home. How parents react to social pressures and markers of success – money and material goods – is of utmost importance. Parents need to be able to hold their own and express what they stand for with clarity so that the child learns to understand himself better.
As the child grows older and mixes with other children, comparisons with other children and their families must be avoided at all costs. But children will be prone to it. Here again, the parents must articulate what they believe to be the meaning of their lives so that they can say ‘no’ to their child when needed.