Is Socialization Harder During Periods of Transition? It doesn’t have to be.
September marks a time of many changes in most families. For many, it is a time of uncertainty and anxiety. For many kids, it brings about new classes, new classmates, and new teachers. A whole different environment. A whole lot of unknowns.
Over this past Labour Day weekend, as we prepared for the upcoming school year, our home was filled with a boatload of anxiety.
I had two children changing schools. Both were being TTC trained to get home on their own. We needed school supplies and new shoes. Lots of forms needed to be signed or hot lunch order forms to be completed. The uncertainty of whom would be in their classes, or would they make new friends…all these feelings crossed the minds of my children.
And if I am being totally honest, these feelings crossed my mind as well. Overwhelmingly so. As a mother, I couldn’t shake the need to have my children settled and satisfied. But I would not dare discuss my fears in their presence. They had enough on their minds and enough of their own fears to contend with.
The truth is, most parents worry about their children more during periods of transition. Once our children are more settled, or after they have found their groove, everyone is able to relax somewhat.
Why is this the case? Why are periods of transition, such as at the beginning of the school year, so nerve-racking?
I speculate that we always worry about the ‘what ifs’.
- What if my child does not have any friends in her class?
- What if she doesn’t like her teacher?
- What if the work is too hard and she stops trying?
- What if this year my child is the one who is picked on?
Or the hardest one, in my opinion…what if my child gets ‘dumped’ by her besties because they find someone else to hang with?
As parents, we are forced to coast through this time of year. I think we pray a lot that our children will be spared in their struggle, and guide our children to empathize with others and to consider others’ feelings before any of us say something we might regret.
But unfortunately, as we all know, we are not in control of what others say and do. We are only in control of how we respond and behave.
So how can we help socialize our children to be good, responsible friends and members of society?
- Parents themselves need to recognize that proper socialization begins right after birth. Through the process of socialization, children learn manners and appropriate ways of speaking. They learn empathy, how to trust, whom to trust, and what compassion really means. By exposing our children to opportunities where they can learn such skills, parents are inevitably setting their children up for socialization success.
- Parents need to model proper social skills. This cannot be emphasised enough. Children learn from their environments. If our children grow up watching mom or dad be polite even when a situation does not warrant it, or respond to someone who is being aggressive in a disarming way, they will learn to do these things themselves.
- Parents need to allow their children to make their own social mistakes. I am definitely guilty of wanting to intervene when my children complain of being mistreated by a friend, for instance. As my children have gotten older and more confident in their ability to ‘handle it’, I have been much better at holding my tongue and staying away. I remain always supportive to them, and always prepared to talk and give advice, but much less willing to do it for them despite my bursting motherly instinct to intervene.
So as it is so eloquently stated by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The only way to have a friend is to be one”. If we are able to teach our children some basic socialisation skills, they should be able to transfer these skills to all aspects of their lives, transitional or otherwise.
I welcome your thoughts.