Secure children gain confidence to explore the world.

How Parents Affect a Child's Socialization

by Laura Agadoni

Without realizing it, you could be raising an outgoing child, a bully or a self-centered kid. Babies born into the world are blank slates, and you write on that slate by teaching your child what to think and feel about the world. Children are like sponges, ready to soak in whatever they absorb from their primary caretakers. You have a great influence on how your child is socialized — how he relates to others.

1. Your Influence

A parent is the greatest influence on a toddler. Once your child starts preschool, his teacher and the other children also influence him. Then, when your child starts school, peers become more and more influential. That’s why what you do while your child is little sets the stage for the type of person he’ll become. You influence your child’s trust level, independence, his ability to take initiative, his self-confidence and his relationships with others.

2. Raising an Outgoing Child

Parents, by how they socialize, could raise an outgoing child who ventures out into the world to discover social relationships. Attachment theory maintains that children who feel secure and loved at home have the confidence to explore their world, knowing they have a safe and loving place to which they can return. Toddlers don’t miss a beat. Even when you don’t realize it, they’re observing you. If you’re social and interact with people, you’re teaching your child how to do that. Teaching your child manners also helps him learn to share and cooperate — traits that will make him likeable to other kids.

3. Bullies and Being Bullied

Bullies and kids who are bullied are two sides of the same coin, often raised by authoritarian parents. The combination of a controlling and authoritarian parent who isn’t particularly warm can lead to a child becoming a bully, according to Randie O’Neil Fielder, adjunct professor in the counselor education department at Capella University, in her book “The Perceived Parent-Child Relationship and the Effect on the Child’s Pattern of Negative Peer Interactions.” Parents who raise their toddlers in an almost military-like fashion, with a strong emphasis on obedience without explaining why, typically raise children who try to control or bully their peers, or they raise children who are uncomfortable exploring the world and relating to others, according to Education.com.

4. Self-Centered

Permissive parents who let their little darlings do whatever they please whenever they want typically do so because they don’t want to thwart their child’s natural inclinations by imposing limits. But they might be unwittingly doing a disservice to their kids. Children raised by permissive parents can be bossy little tyrants. As soon as you get on the phone, a self-centered child doesn’t like it and constantly interrupts. If you have a guest over, your self-centered toddler might jump up and down on the couch to get attention. Children of permissive parents tend to have high self-esteem because they are nurtured, but they also tend to misbehave more when they start preschool and have a higher rate of alcohol use when they reach the teen years, according to a 1996 study and a 2011 study reported in Parenting Science.

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