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Factors Affecting Social Development (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Role of Culture

The characteristics of culture also affect children’s developing social skills (Wardle, 2001). Teachers who take the time to observe and know the culture and community in which children live are better able to build on its strengths or work to mediate its potential negative effects on children’s social development.

Children who live in violent or unsafe communities may be fearful and withdrawn when in the classroom. Those exposed to domestic abuse, gang violence, and petty or not-so-petty criminals do not feel safe or secure. Their feelings of insecurity will interfere with their total development, especially social skills development.

Children who experience violence in their community will need to find the following in the preschool-primary classrooms (Gross & Clemens, 2002; Slaby et al., 1995; Wallach, 1995):

  • Meaningful relationships with caring and knowledgeable adults
  • Schedules and environment that are as consistent as possible
  • Structure and very clear expectations and limits
  • Many opportunities to express themselves safely in play, art, and stories and storytelling

All of us are affected socially and emotionally by violence, wars, threats of wars, and terrorism (Avery et al., 1999). During these frightening, sad, and uncertain times, even children who live in relatively safe environments are exposed to a great deal of violence.

Some children and their families have been directly and deeply affected by war and terrorism. Even children with no direct contact with war, however, can be deeply affected. Children who witness violence or have been personally affected by violence will express their needs, grief, fears, apprehensions, and thoughts in different ways (Rosen, Rahay, & Rosenbaum, 2003). Some may withdraw, become irritable, or stop eating or sleeping; others may act out. It’s important for teachers to take their cues from the child. Support each child as an individual while providing all children with the following (NAEYC, 2001):

  • Make sure routines are kept, that children know and can depend on the structure of the day.
  • Accept children’s feelings and behviors with support and acceptance.
  • Find ways for children to express themselves, whether through outdoor play, running, drawing, painting, building, or telling stories.

Many children view far too much violence on TV or in games, toys, stories, and other media. In schools throughout the nation you can observe children acting out the violence they observe: playing war or superhero and acting aggressively.

Teachers have found a number of ways to help children and their parents cope with the prevalence of violence in children’s lives. Teachers and parents discuss the problems of children’s exposure to media violence and work to change the media (NAEYC, 2001). They also work with children to do the following:

  • They develop the concept of real and not real by informing children about which stories, movies, and television shows are “real” and which are not. They then ask children to determine which shows or movies are factual and which are fantasy.
  • They foster the development of critical viewing skills for evaluating media violence.
  • They reduce television viewing.
  • They ensure that children watch more prosocial television programs.
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