Social development of a child is particularly rapid in the first year of life. Within 12 months a baby has to acquire not only a huge amount of knowledge and skills, but also to establish emotional contact with others, to learn to trust adults, to learn to control his body, to remember a few hundred words, and to learn how to pronounce some of them.
For the baby’s social development to proceed properly and at best rates, you must constantly communicate with your baby, show him your love, talk and sing songs, walk and draw attention to the surrounding things – in other words, to give the baby your full attention.
What is social development?
Social development of a child is a process of learning values, traditions and culture of the society a child belongs to. When communicating with peers and adults, playing and doing something, a little person learns to live according to certain unwritten rules, to consider the interests of others, as well as behavioral rules.
The family has a great impact on the social and personal development of a child. It is the family that transfers knowledge, experience, values, and traditions from generation to generation. That’s why a friendly atmosphere in the family, trusting relationships, and respect for each other are necessary for the normal development of a baby.
Social development of babies
Experts believe that communication is the most leading factor of a child’s social development.
A baby is born with inherent social development abilities. Within the first six months of life, communication is the leading activity of an infant. He expresses his emotions and feelings through facial expressions, movements and sounds. From 6 months and up to 2 years the form of children’s communication with adults is situational and business. The peculiarity of this form is the practical interaction between an adult and the child. A baby now requires not only love and attention but also an advice, assistance, cooperation. All this enables the baby to learn faster and better the variety of objects, their properties, the ways of manipulation them.
In the early social development of a child there is the foundation laid for the further relationships with parents, peers, family and classmates. In order to enter the social world, a child must go through two important steps – to reach self-awareness and learn to be aware of others. When looking in the mirror, you always recognize your own reflection. The age of this first recognition, self-awareness, as well as many other stages of development, depends on the nervous system maturation. In one experiment children were shown their images on television. Most children recognized themselves starting from the age of 15 months. In combination with increased interest in other people self-awareness becomes the essence of social development. Moreover, self-awareness allows one to feel such social emotions as embarrassment, shame, guilt and pride.
Baby’s smile is the first social emotion, which is the way to communicate with adults and is a response to a tender attitude.
10 facts about the social development of babies
The social development abilities help a baby in the first months of life:
• to distinguish voices and faces;
• to interact;
• to understand the attitude of adults.
Social abilities of newborns
1. Newborns prefer the child-directed speech. When an adult is talking to a baby, he adapts his voice to interaction with a newborn in a slower, more emotional and melodic way. Such communication was called “Parentese” and it helps a baby (due to the increased expressivity) to understand the adult’s treatment. This style of communication also helps a baby to develop language.
2. Newborns recognize their mother’s voice. Even during the fetal development a baby can hear the voices, when born he can already recognize his mother’s voice. In one experiment infants were given to listen to voices of different women. The newborns were listening to their own mother’s voice recording most attentively.
3. Infants recognize their mother tongue. A baby recognizes not the very language, but he can distinguish a specific rate of the native language. Experimental studies have shown that even 4 day old babies preferred the speech they had heard in the womb.
4. Newborn babies recognize and prefer to look at the face of adults. In studies of scientists it has been proven that babies prefer to look at faces or images similar to faces. Also babies prefer to look at a face with open eyes and can distinguish between a happy and a sad face, viewing a happy face more closely.
5. Newborns quickly remember faces of their parents. A newborn baby has insufficient visual acuity and views rather peripheral than central part of a shown image. Moreover, within the first hours of life they are able to recognize faces of other people. Babies, of course, prefer to view their mother’s face and not an unfamiliar person.
6. Newborns prefer to look at people who make eye contact with them. Direct eye contact attracts a baby and he actively interacts with an adult.
7. Newborns experience stress when the adult, who takes care of the baby, does not express an emotional response. Babies are oriented towards an adult’s face. They willingly interact with the adults who express kindness. If an adult does not express any emotion and his facial expression is neutral, a baby begins to experience stress.
8. Newborns pay attention to what you are looking at. The ability to follow the gaze of another person is especially important skill for an infant. It is proved that babies no older than 5 days of age already have this ability.
9. Newborns can imitate adult facial expression. When being shown a video record of an adult with his mouth wide open and his tongue poked out, newborns repeat this expression in 20 seconds.
10. Newborns show empathy and distinguish themselves from others. Probably many people know that when a baby starts crying, nearby babies also start crying. Researchers started studying this fact and it has turned out that babies distinguished their cry from other babies, scream of other infants from cry of older children. Babies prefer to cry together with babies of their own age.
Read more about social development of a child in the topic Playing with Other Children in the post Child Parenting Part 3.