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Baby becomes socialised

 

Will my little angel be shy or outgoing? Will they manage to make friends and fit in at the nursery? How can I help them nurture their relationships with others?

Life in society is something we learn throughout our whole life! Your baby learns the rules little by little in contact with their close family circle, then as time goes by they refine their perception of others. First through giggles and bonding, but also squabbling and rivalry. It is through such experience that your little one will learn how to live in society.

Your baby discovers the world… with their family

From birth to six months, your baby's world revolves around just a few people, their parents. They are their first "social integrators". Early on your baby loves this relationship full of smiles, looks, cuddles and funny faces.

Brothers and sisters also play an important role in baby's "primary socialisation". They take your baby out of the exclusive relationship with their mother, and this shows when your baby is delighted to see their big brother or cousin come to visit for the week end.

Between four and six months your baby starts to smile at new people… but it is still to mummy and daddy that baby babbles the most! Everything changes after eight months with the well-known "8th month anguish" stage. Your baby, who used to smile at the neighbour, immediately starts to cry when they see an unfamiliar face; to the great dismay of granny and granddad who have travelled some way to see their grandson or daughter.

Meeting others…

As soon as your baby knows how to walk, their world opens up as if by magic. They now know how to "talk", communicate, make themselves understood, and take every opportunity to make friends with children of their age. However, your baby is not yet ready to share their toys or give up their turn on the swing! Be patient, your baby will learn the rules of life in society as they go along.

Contact with other children will help them construct their personality. At the playgroup or day-nursery, at the childminder's or in the park… they love watching children of their age but also older children, and imitate them. They now also know how to choose their friends and it is at this stage that the first friendships are formed.

The grandparents can also play a role in baby's secondary socialisation. Taking over from the parents, they teach baby other values and have a different outlook on the world… They place children in the context of the family history which is important in building their social identity.

When children start infants' school, they enter a new phase. Your baby is just one among another twenty or so children and will have to learn to assert themselves.

My child is shy. Should I be concerned?

If your child is afraid of unfamiliar faces, cries when you leave them, refuses to say hello and goodbye… to sum it up, your child is shy! This phase is often temporary but may last longer in certain children. It may simply be in your child's nature and is therefore nothing to worry about. However, if your child genuinely appears to be uninterested in others, discuss it with your doctor in order to rule out any hearing problems.

If your baby seems withdrawn or seems shy there's no need to worry. It in no way suggests that your child will remain that way forever. Encourage them gently to go towards others, enrol them in an activity group, they'll quickly make friends.

If your child is often aggressive towards other children, and this attitude lasts a few weeks, they are perhaps feeling insecure. Discussing it with your paediatrician may help you better understand their behaviour.

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