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Socialization, Violence, and Mental Health

Socialization begins at home.

It’s true, 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.


Finding the Child in the Chart — Chiarini’s Circus (Sekai daiichi charine daikyokuba) (1886) by Utagawa Masanobu. Original from The MET Museum. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.


Yes, socialization begins at home.

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 don’t 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.

It’s nearly inevitable and normal — all children form an connection with their parents.  Nonetheless, sometimes there’s no bond — or no connection at all.

For example, maybe a child is autistic or irritable and the mother may have a low tolerance for a crying child. Or, maybe the child is abused or neglected.

In extreme circumstances, the attachment between a parent and caregiver is formed for reasons, like fear and anxiety.

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.

Children Connecting With Parents

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,


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,


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

Taking the Time and Effort

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.

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 is worth the time and effort.

About the author: George Zapo CPH, is certified in Public Health Promotion and Education (Kent State University). George provides 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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