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Socialization, Violence, and Mental Health

Child Eating Cereal

Socialization begins at home.

Almost every morning, young Katie sits down with her father and shares some yogurt or a bowl of Wheaties.

When her father pours milk and cereal in a bowl, she walks over, leans against his leg, opens her mouth and says, “Eat.”

No one really knows if she actually likes the taste of the cereal or if she likes the interaction her and her father have.  What is really noticeable is how happy and animated she is when her father tips a spoonful of yogurt or cereal into her mouth.

Katie smiles while she sways back and forth.  Sometimes she kicks one leg up in the air while she spins around then comes back to her father, opens her mouth and says, “more.”

When it’s time for her father to leave and he says, “all gone,” Katie acts disappointed—she’s like a baby bird waiting for its mother to put a worm in her mouth, craning her neck, looking upward in anticipation.

This is what Dr. Daniel J. Flannery, Professor of Justice Studies and Director of the Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence at Kent State University, describes in his book: “Violence and mental health in everyday life: prevention and intervention strategies for children and adolescents

Children Connecting With Parents

ConnectingIt’s nearly inevitable and normal—all children form an connection with their parents.  However, sometimes there is no bond, or it doesn’t fit at all.  Maybe a child is autistic or irritable and the mother may have a low tolerance for a crying child.

In extreme circumstances, the attachment between a parent and caregiver is formed for reasons, such as anxiety and fear.  Maybe the child is abused or neglected.

No matter what form of attachment, parents have a significant influence over their child from birth and through the early days of the child’s development and throughout the course of the child’s lifetime.

A safe, warm, and secure sense of attachment can lead to a child developing self-confidence, healthy habits, and identity.  They can control their emotions with the belief that his or her own actions produce consequences rather than being a victim of circumstances, chance, or luck.

On the other hand, when unhealthy attachments form children inevitably grow up insecure and anxious.  They struggle while they search for a healthy sense of purpose and direction.  They also have more problems developing mature relationships with others.

Socialization and Healthy Habits

SocializationSocialization begins at home.

Genetics and a child’s biological foundation are present at birth.

However, the future development of a child’s genetic structure and their biological makeup depends on socialization experiences and their environment.

Stress can interfere with the formation, attachment, and healthy habits between a child and parent.

A child with a difficult temperament can lack receiving warmth and nurturance from a depressed mother.

Parents experiencing financial difficulties, marital conflicts or domestic violence cause poor attachments with their children.

Finally, parents who do not use effective and appropriate parenting strategies are more likely to have children who grow up aggressive or violent.

Consider what goes on behind closed doors…

Look closely at how you interact with family members or individuals in your home environment.  It starts with the desire to want to live with healthy habits and respect for others.  It’s worth the time and effort.

Can you offer some additional advice in effective and appropriate parenting strategies?

About the author: George Zapo, CPH is certified in Public Health Promotion and Education (Kent State University). George focuses on providing informative articles promoting healthy behavior and lifestyles.

4 comments… add one
  • jan

    When you have extenuating circumstances, it is difficult to keep with this, although I agree completely. Stop using video games and TV to occupy them and play a game of Candyland or Monopoly. Do something besides buy them the latest toy or gadget.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinion on this important topic, Jan!

      Everything in moderation…

  • Chuck Bartok

    A safe, warm, and secure sense of attachment can lead to a child developing self-confidence, healthy habits, and identity.

    So very true. But it seems so many have equated these traits to Material provisions.
    How many are READING daily to their Children, sharing the chores, and instilling Values, by example.
    Let’s turn off the cell phones, I-pads and Television and learn to play ridiculous games and READ

    • It’s a pleasure to read your comment, Chuck!

      You’ve brought up some beneficial and effective parenting strategies to help create or build a binding relationship between a child, parent, and/or caregiver.

      Changes in habits, positive reinforcement, and adjustments in one’s time schedule can have a profound effect in making a difference in an individual’s life…

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