Saturday, March 25, 2017

Structured Activities and Socialization

When children enter elementary school they spend a lot of time in a structured environment. However, they also need time to be in structured activities such as playing a sport, music instrument etc. These structured activities are associated with positive development. These programs provide the background  for children to build strengths and capabilities and encourage children to learn and explore the rules associated the organization that convey expectations for caring, character building and moral identity (ex. boys and girls club). Organizations provide a setting for children to interact and build friendships while working toward common goals and providing the opportunity to influence their own development. This is done through building leadership skills and shaping their communities. The attitudes of organizations that anticipate positive outcomes include opportunities for planning, taking initiative and availability of positive peer and adult role models. These organizations also provide opportunities for children to volunteer which helps children, especially youth, think about and consider the lives of someone other than themselves. These types of programs also put children in different social situations which helps them develop the social skills for that particular social setting.

Peer interactions become more complex as children grow and can serve as a vital function to promote pro-social skills. For example, when my child was in high school she had a friend that thought they had to do everything together. They had to like the same things and she started to tell my daughter who she should be. This friend didn't realize my daughter was  a completely different person from this friend. They had to be in constant communication with one another when they weren't together telling each other everything. They had to like the same things, feel the same way about teachers and parents etc. My daughter got tired of being told who to be and this friendship became an unhealthy one for her to be in. She finally ended the friendship when the friend told her what a horrible friend she was because my daughter wouldn't tell her everything that was going on in her life and therefore tell her everything. This peer interaction helped my daughter grow and promote pro-social skills as she told this friend they were no longer friends and why.

Without the opportunity for routine contact with peers in formal and informal settings, the formation of friendships isn't possible. Child care, playgroups, and community programs  provide instruments for promoting children's interactions and socialization skills. The attitudes and beliefs of a child's parents play an important role in managing a child's experiences. Parents initiate pathways by selecting  environments for children in their early years. Depending on the environments parents choose to put their children in and what resources are available in those environments the opportunities for social interaction and friendships may differ for children depending on geographic region.

Socialization is a process. It's a process that requires many avenues and children need guidance from family, community, and friends to help them learn the  rules of socialization. Guiding and teaching a child to learn socialization skills is when the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child," is very true.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bullying Prevention

Parents play a role in bullying prevention by observing patterns in children's behavior and paying attention to any changes. It's important for parents to talk to their children on a daily basis about what happened before, during and after school to identify any problems that occurred. Children in middle school would rather talk with friends than parents, so parents can consider talking to their children during meal times or having routine communication times about what happened during the child's day.

A warning sign that a child is being bullied, is changes in their behavior such as a change of interest in school. If a child usually enjoys school and likes to participate in school activities but all of a sudden wants to stay home, that's a sign to a parent that something might be happening at school. Something a parent can do is talk to the teachers and staff at school and they can provide information about how a child is interacting with other children. What will be frustrating to parents who may have a child who may be being bullied, is that the school may be reluctant to help in anyway. Look for signs of physical abuse such as bruises or other scars and scratches. It's important for parents to intervene before the situation becomes out of control. Sometimes victims feel embarrassed to admit they're being harassed, so pay attention to signs. Know what your child is doing online and whether or not they're being victims this way. Know what websites they're going to in order to know if they're showing signs of violence. Evidence of bullying, highlights the importance of appropriate supervision by parents, teachers, administration, and other adults.

 To bring bullying under control it's important to be aware that bullying is occurring in the classrooms and hallways of a school. Children should be encouraged to report bullying and be made aware of school policies on bullying and what will be done to deal with bullying behavior. It's important for children to participate in bullying prevention and to recognize the warning signs of bullying and  learn strategies to cope with it. Bullying isn't a normal part of growing up or a normal part of childhood. Bullying has gotten worse over the decades and children have become more violent in what they do to each other. Bullying isn't a normal part of growing up, it's a child acting in inappropriate ways and treating another child in hurtful ways that may even cause harm. Some parents may not want to become involved because of fear that their child will get mad at them. However, there is a difference between being nosy and educated or informed. Webster's dictionary defines nosy as too curious about others affairs, prying. It defines inform as give facts to, get information. A parent who is nosy wants to know what's going on in their child's life in order to control and direct their child's life. A parent that is educated and informed of what's going on in their child's life and what is going on in their child's school is informed.

An approach to the intervention of bullying is social skills training. This is the process of when a teacher or therapist works with a child after the incident occurs and away from the context it happened. The basis of the approach is to help children understand the nature of social interactions and help them apply what they've learned. For example, a parent can teach a child is all right to feel anger but it's not okay to act on that anger through forms of abuse.

Social skills training teaches children the unwritten rules of social interactions that most children learn unconsciously. It's a method that teaches a child something intuitively. The steps to social skills training are: knowledge, action, and application. Knowledge- for example, does the child know they're more likely to be accepted into an ongoing group activity if they wait quietly for a few minutes before trying to enter. Action- is the child able to apply knowledge and behave accordingly to what the child knows. For example, does a child know they don't throw tantrums in the grocery store and behave using acceptable social behavior in the grocery store? Application- is the child able to generalize the new found knowledge to similar settings. For example, does the child understand not throwing tantrums in all public spaces is what is socially acceptable, not just the grocery store? Social skills training doesn't always work because pro-social behavior is complicated and a person's personality, temperament, disposition and culture all relate to social behavior.

If social skills training doesn't work it would be wise to have the child speak to a therapist.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


It's during the middle school year's children become either a part of the in-group or out-group. The in-group are peer group's children feel they belong to and are insiders of. The out-group are groups of children who feel they they don't belong and are outsiders and known as 'them.' Children who share common attributes and interests would be an in-group, whereas children who are viewed as different are the out group. Children who are part of the out-group are more likely to be targeted by bullying and may become bullies themselves. The concept of these groups relates to the concept of how peer pressure influences peer relationships. Cultural values dictate which attributes are desirable in friends as well as other common interests.

Bullying during the  middle school years takes on different forms including direct and indirect bullying. Types of bullying include physical and verbal bullying. Direct bullying involves a plan to attack and carry out that plan against the victim such as physical and verbal bullying. Physical bullying includes physical aggression such as hitting, kicking, pushing, stealing and using weapons. Verbal bullying includes hurting with words such as name calling, teasing or making racial slurs.

Indirect bullying is also known as relational bullying and involves tactics that may be hidden in order to target and due damage to the victim's social relationships. Relational bullying involves using relationships to hurt, manipulate others, such as spreading rumors and intentionally excluding someone from a group or influencing friends to do certain behaviors. For example, making sure someone's friends turn against them by lying, scheming, and manipulating others into believing and doing things against the person. It can also include the bully threatening something if they don't help the person carry out their plans.

Cyber bullying happens when a child is threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or targeted in some other way by another person when using the internet, mobile device or other digital technology. There are two types of cyber bullying: direct attacks and cyber bullying. Direct attacks are messages sent to a child directly, for example, through a message on Facebook. Cyber bullying is bullying that happens by proxy. This is bullying that uses other people to bully the victim either with or without the victim's knowledge. Children who lack protective systems such as family and friends can by overly trusting and find deception and harassment on the internet. Mobile devices also create problems with bullying. Text bullying is when people send hurtful or embarrassing text messages to people on their phones. People who want to bully others this way have access to their phones twenty-four hours a day. The victim may not recognize the number that's sending the text which makes text bullying more anonymous and is on the rise.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Socialization During the Middle School Years

Parents still influence a child's peer group on middle school. Children who have positive and close relationships with their parents are more likely to participate in pro-social activities. Parents who are supportive of their children are more likely to get them involved in activities at school.

Siblings expose one another to new people and activities. Depending on how close they are in age they may share some of the same friends. Siblings introduce children to social norms and values by teaching them what behaviors are appropriate in particular settings.

Peer interactions in middle school are shaped by cultural norms and values in a child's community and society as a whole. Children who are shy are likely to be viewed as lacking social competence and receive pressure to modify behavior. However, it's important to recognize the difference between being shy and quiet. Some people are naturally quiet people but it's seen as being shy. There's a difference. Shy means timid, easily frightened, not at ease with other people and cautious. Quiet means not noisy, not talking, silent, still or calm, not easily excited or upset, gently, bright or showy. The pressure children receive to modify their behavior, is how peers shape the process throughout cultural values and influence individual development.

Cultural in  middle school encourages children to maintain, adopt and transform existing values in their community. It either promotes or weakens the active role of a child's development as they learn and decide for themselves what their values will be. By emphasizing particular features of peer relationships, cultural beliefs and values heighten children's sensitivity to socially valued characteristics and influence peer interactions. For example, is a child in a 'popular' group or known as part of the 'band club.' These social norms and values will help shape the types of activities that children are encouraged to pursue in middle childhood.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Socialization During Elementary School

During the elementary school years children depend on each other for companionship, advice, and self-validation. Friends provide a context for self-understanding and learning of how to relate to others. Friends are a source of help and self-revelation. Children learn to negotiate, share, comprise, and defend each other and themselves through interactions with friends. For example, my daughter as a teen was at a dance when she saw a boy ask a girl to dance. The girl looked him up and down, made a dislike face and walked away. As she was walking away my daughter said loud enough for her to hear, "That was rude." She defended  the guy and called the girl on her behavior. A certain amount of aggression and reconciliation is expected in friend relationships as children work out conflicts with each other and learn how to comprise.