Experiences That Shapes a Child
Although the children follow roughly the same developmental path to sociable behavior, each youngster is inevitably influenced by the particular experiences of his growing years.
Parents as model
The process of absorbing his parents’ values is helped along by the young child’s natural tendency to imitate their words and deeds. Children are keen observers: As he grows from infancy to toddlerhood, your little one takes more and more note of the way you treat him and interact with other people, soaking up your unspoken attitudes as well as the more deliberate lessons you are teaching.
The marriage relationship
The parent – child relationship is of primary importance in shaping the child’s character. Most marriages fall somewhere in between these extremes, with parents trying their best to arrive at a consensus on behavior and discipline but never fully succeeding. If the later description fits your marriage, you and your spouse should try to show your child a united front even in the midst of disagreement. Later, when you are alone together, you can discuss your differences and seek a common ground.
The effects of broken marriage
When a marital breakup occurs, parents are often tempted to change their parenting style: many lower their behavioral standards in the belief that a youngster’s anger and confusion will diminish if she is allowed to have her way.
Many children going through the first throes of their parents’ divorce demonstrate their need for greater adult control with a variety of testing behaviors ranging from tantrums to stealing, destroying property, hitting and telling lies. Others regress temporarily into infantile dependency, clinging to one or both parents and becoming extremely shy and fearful of others.
So the parents should also reassure the child that although Mom and Dad cannot live together anymore, they both will always love her and care about her future.
As the children grow older, they become more and more involved in play with other children an increasingly look to them as models for behavior. Peers typically help socialize each other by reinforcing a wide range of positive actions and attitudes, from cooperation and generosity to sharing and helping. Young children are quick to perceive that those who shine in these areas generally attract more friends than those who are selfish and aggressive. The shy or timid youngster may also become more sociable through repeated exposure to a more outgoing playmate, the ability to map out her own social path will open the door to a vast new world of independent, self-directed behavior.