Factors affecting the child's social development

What is the influence upon the child's social development of such factors as health, physique, the family, play and other recreational activities, school activities, clubs, gangs, boys' and girls' camps, and the social order?

The most important factors affecting the child's social development are environmental. Of course, the most fundamental fact in social development is that the child, through his experiences, learns to get along with other people. The factors which influence social development are therefore those which guide his learning processes or which determine the nature of his experiences.

Health and Physique

Good health is favorable to social development. The child who is well and feels well has an advantage over the one who is sick, undernourished, and lacking in vitality. Sickness during infancy as well as during the years of childhood tends to interfere with the development of suitable social behavior patterns. The child who receives an excess of attention, care, and solicitude during periods of sickness maybecome selfish, self-assertive, and domineering. The one who is undernourished and not strong may depend unduly upon others and become shy and submissive. He may develop a timid, fearful attitude in his relations to others. If a child departs greatly from the normal in physique, being much undersized or oversized, or if he has some noticeable physical defect, he is likely to be persecuted or tormented by other children. This may result in an exceptionally strong feeling of inferiority which interferes with his social development. Many cases are observed in which the sensitive child seems to shun normal social contacts with his fellows because of poor health, lack of vitality, or a consciousness of inferior physical status. Sometimes overaggressive compensatory activities add to the difficulty. We have observed many troublesome children whose poor social adjustments seemed to be the result of their poor physical condition. We, have also observed a few cases in which physical defects seemed to interfere with the child's having suitable social relations with his fellows. Many of these cases, however, are complicated and made much worse by other conditions surrounding him, such as ineffective home training, bad companions, and other similar conditions.

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