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Childhood is a very fragile time. Research has shown time and again that the development of a child into a functioning adult is directly related the experiences that the child goes through in their early stages of life. (Ellis and Bjorklund 2005) That is why there is such a high importance placed on education all around the world. The more schooled one is as a child, the more potential they have as an adult. However, pure education, even in its finest, does not guarantee that the child will be a successful adult. There are many social-emotional factors that come into play as a child develops as well. This essay will explore various aspects that impact child development before comparing everything to a theory by sociologist Abraham Maslow.
There are certain discernible traits that ultimately will help or hinder a child’s ability to adapt to life’s social roles as an adult and throughout adolescence. One of these skills is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the skill to discern clearly not only one’s own emotions, but also the emotions of others around you. High emotional intelligence will breed many positive social relationships. (Ellis and Bjorklund 2005) Another somewhat related skill is communication. Communication is a key aspect of life. It is how we learn from other and how we express ourselves. Good communication can help a person not only socially, but tremendously in the professional world. A final personal skill that help a child develop well socially is the ability to cope with stress and responsibility. As one grows up, they are entrusted with more and more responsibility. Responsibilities often cultivate a high amount of stress. The ability to deal with stress effectively and simultaneously still meet one’s responsibilities is very important for this reason.
Family environments play a role in how successful a child is at gaining these skills. One trait of a good family environment is how the child is dealt with in respect to punishment and rewards. Good, pro-social behavior should be rewarded while harmful and antisocial behavior should be fairly punished and corrected. A second quality of a good family environment is appropriate socialization habits. Children who are permitted to associate with other children of the same age will typically go through normal social processes and learn how to communicate and act in a manner that is representative of their age group. (Ellis and Bjorklund 2005) However, careful attention should be paid to what kind of peers the child is spending time amongst.
One characteristic of a family environment that could inhibit the development of a child’s social skills is physical or verbal abuse. There have been numerous scientific studies that show that physical and verbal abuse on a child will have adverse effects on their social bonds later in life due to their disparate and demeaning treatment at a younger stage. (Ellis and Bjorklund 2005) Even more disturbing, these children are more likely to grow up to abuse their own children as well.
Children spend a large amount of their time in classroom settings as well as home. One characteristic of a classroom that will help every child develop good social skills is equal treatment across all students. As is the way of the world, certain children will come to school with confidence and knowledge superior to the others. Others will come at the opposite end of the spectrum. It is the teacher’s job to make a classroom environment that gives all students an equal opportunity to learn the material and doesn’t favor one child over another. This will make all of the children feel comfortable in the classroom environment and ensure no one gets left behind. Furthermore, the teacher should make sure that there is no bullying among the children. Bullying results in the bullied child having very low self-esteem and decreases their motivation to learn and be a part of the school.
One quality of a classroom environment that may inhibit the development of good social skills is extreme strictness. If the teacher only lectures to the children and doesn’t allow them time to socialize or interact with the material, the student will feel isolated from the classroom. They will disassociate themselves with the other students and not become involved in the environment at all.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is too often thought of primarily an adult construct of feeling fulfilled. (Villa 1992) However, it can certainly be applied to children, and shown to accommodate the previous paragraphs. A child, to feel comfortable, must obviously know that they are safe and have clothing and shelter. They also must feel loved and nurtured in the home, rather than feel abused and unwanted. Furthermore, a child must feel like they belong in the classroom and with other students, fulfilling their social desires. This is achieved by socializing themselves and behaving much like their peer groups. Once these needs are met, the child will be eager to learn and realize more about themselves as a person. (Villa 1992) Hopefully, as society starts to recognize these needs, educational initiatives will ensure that every child is treated equally and is able to socially adapt to become successful members of society both in the school and the home.
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