In this article we will discuss about the nature of social development in a child.
A new-born human child is neither a social not an unsocial being. He is a mere organism and as such possesses potentialities and mechanisms ready to function, at first in a very limited manner. But he is so constituted that he is dependent on someone from birth and thereafter for a long time to come. He needs others’ attention and help for his complete welfare. He learns early in life that he is in the presence of people.
He begins to make responses to his mother or others who look after him. His responses to others are meagre to begin with, but gradually when his sense organs become more receptive to stimulation, these responses increase in number and complexity and a process of social adjustment, an important aspect of social development, set in.
Social development means ultimately the attainment of maturity of social relationships which start forming after the birth of the child. It has his different aspects. One is the process of socialisation a process which enables the child to acquire his social status according to his age. It also implies learning of the special ways of his society, its customs and manners, its language, morals and ways of living and thinking.
The other aspect of social development is that the child progressively increases his social circle and mixes with increasingly larger groups. He is no longer a member of his immediate family alone, but learns to adjust to members of other groups as well, whether social development means socialisation or an increase in social interests, it involves the development of new types of behaviour, a change in interests and the choice of new types of companions and friends.
The individual becomes social when he not only wants to be with others but who also wants to share and do things with them. A social individual is different from being a gregarious individual. The latter craves the pressure of others, is lonely when away from them but the former goes beyond this. He wants to make active contacts, to share things and participate in corporate activities of others or of the group.
Some of the characteristics of social development are, thus, socialisation, the ability to take interest in others, to share, to co-operate, to work as a member of a group, to develop certain group loyalties, to develop friendships, to interact, to compete, to enter into healthy combat with others, to develop social perception (awareness of the feelings, moods and intentions of others), to develop a desire to belong and to be socially accepted.