Socialization is the most over-used term in the parenting world-and early childhood education world-these days…and often the most misinterpreted. We stay-at-home moms are not depriving our children of proper socialization, we are actually providing the best form of it.

The definition of socialization, from is:
a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.

Most parents think that they NEED to engage their infant-through-preschool child in playgroups, enroll their child in daycare centers, or host playdates at their home in order to socialize their child.  I truly believe that the playdates and playgroup options are great, when done in moderation, but they are by no means necessary to raising a competent child. Are you a human being?  Do you interact with your child?  Then, I am happy to tell you, you are socializing him!

I stopped attending a playgroup when my son was about 18 months old due to the poor influence that some older children had on the group. The older boys behaved in a way that I did not want my child emulating, and so since he was following their lead at the time, doing what they did, I chose to stop attending until I could be sure that he was going to listen to my corrections in those situations.

The impact of exposure to negative behavior is greater than we think.  Those of us who socialize our children with other children at playdates, etc. know that sometimes our children follow the wrong lead, or make a bad choice many times.

I am a firm believer in socialization with adult supervision and exposure to many new situations and experiences while you can be present to observe and interject when necessary. This gets the bad rap of being considered ‘helicopter parenting’, but up to a certain age, it is necessary.

If your child is being socialized around other children with you not around, you will not have knowledge of all they are doing or how they are acting all the time.

How do I ensure my child has enough socialization?

Family playing soccer text reads how parents teach socialization. Clarifying what socialization is and how parents teach socialization.
  1. My children often go to doctor’s appointments with me.

They have to learned to sit quietly, occupy themselves, and support their mom. They are not perfect angels when they first have to sit in their infant seat or stroller in an appointment, but over time they do learn patience. I bring along toys, books or we walk around the waiting room. Parenting is not always easy, but teaching life lessons requires hard work. Yes, I have had children throw a tantrum in the exam room. One child cried in his infant seat while the doctor was examining me, but once the doc was done, I took my son out and he was fine.

At one clinic, I was told not to bring my small children-my nursing infant went with me anyway. I am normally a rule-follower, but we as parents have to stand up when the rules get in the way of our parenting. I did not have a babysitter, my husband was home with the older one and I was not able to pump anything since my second child breastfed almost constantly. It was what we needed to do. (That clinic has since stopped asking parents of young children to leave their children at home.)

We have to recognize as a society when adult intolerance of children’s needs are harmful and not helping in the long-term!

2.My children go grocery shopping with me.
They ask for treats and food items, but learn they can not always have what they want, they learn to stay by the cart, say ‘excuse me’ to adults, identify food items to help me put them in the cart, and make frugal and healthy choices. Again, I do not have one perfect child. It has taken years of me exposing them to situations by taking them along with me. They still need a lot of learning opportunities!

3. My children go with me to run errands.

Talk about teaching waiting and patience skills! They go to the post office. (That even teaches me more patience!)  They go to the car repair place and the pharmacy…they are exposed to so many new situations and learn how to act in each one.

It is a learning experience. They see a lot of different people of different ages, not just their own age, and, most they are interacting as part of their family unit: They are learning what team they are on, who the team leader is, and that they have a say as well as a requirement to participate.My oldest two learn what a big brother and sister are supposed to do.
The experiences that socialize are not limited to your child playing with their same-age group.  By keeping your child home with you, and allowing them to go places with you, you are stretching their development, allowing them to learn how to act and what or what not to do, while still maintaining that all-important ability to correct bad behavior before it becomes a bad habit!

Do you want a two-year-old teaching your two-year-old how to act? Or would you like to be the one to do that? Preschoolers are capable of learning how to share and pay attention to others’ feelings, but before then, we parents need to interact and teach.

Prior to 3-to-3 ½, socialization is between you, your child, and playgroups, cousins, neighbor kids, etc.  If you are a human being and you are interacting with your child, you are teaching them social skills and how to interact.

Other ways you help your child be “socialized”:

1) Our children’s identities are shaped by us at home, and not their peers. We teach them values, morals, how to be patient, teach discipline, reward them for a good job and teach that there are punishments for poor behavior.
2) The values and behaviors we want our children to emulate are those we show by example every day. We have to remember that we are our family’s compass of values. What we show and teach is what our children will emualte and learn. We do not have to be playdates all the time, but we do have to be working to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.
3) Our children are secure thanks to knowing we are there for them when they need us; they don’t have to cope alone at such a young age. That was one of lessons I took away from working in daycare. I have no judgment for parents who use daycare, in fact, I think home daycares are your best option when you need to hire someone to care for your child.
What are your thoughts about socialization and how it is used these days?
This post is featured in A Complete Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms: Parenting Tips. To view all of the articles shared, click HERE.
For more information on the development of your child(ren):
Learn how to host a playdate to meet mom friends and keep postpartum depression and loneliness away.

Mom with two sons playing outside. Text reads how parents teach socialization.

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