Essay on the Role of Environment and Social Factors in Child Development

These also play an important part. The social aspects of an individual’s environment affect personality in a very striking manner Cruze says, “An individual’s personality is influenced more by the reactions of other people to him and by his reactions to other people than by any other in the environment.”

 

Of these social factors, the most important are the relationships that obtain in the home and the family, the influence of the school and the play-ground, the social codes and social roles which the individual has to play in the family and in the community.

(a) If the home is characterised by an atmosphere of peace, love, mutual understanding, harmony and respect for each member of the group, the child is likely to develop a self-confident and secure personality. If the child is not given opportunities to exercise his independence or use his initiative, if he over-protected, he is going to develop an over-dependent personality.

Repressive discipline will result in rebelliousness or dependence as personality traits. The only child, who is given extra protection and care, is likely to develop into an individualistic or self centred child, demanding and selfish, if parents do not teach him to share what he has with parents and friends.

The early care given to the child or denied to him by his mother is an important condition in the home, according to Freud and his followers, the way the child is breast or bottle-fed, the way he is weaned slowly or suddenly and the way he is bowel and bladder controlled slowly or quickly – all influence the development of personality. Another factor in the home is the inter-sibling relationship. Even the ‘sex’ of the child in Hindu homes is a factor to be reckned with.

Boys rather than girls are given more love and attention and that creates in girls many frustrations which lead to the development of regressive or rebellious tendencies in them. The latter, on account of our culture, take the form of intra-aggression.

How large is the family also matters? In a large family children learn to compete and cooperate, to live together and share things, to love and help one another. These attitudes may be carried into life. If quarrels are ramyant, jealousies are acute; these experiences produce attitudes which may affect adjustments outside the home and in latter life.

(b) It is in the school that most children first learn to adjust to larger groups of people. The personality of the teacher, the richness or drabness of the curriculum, the presence of co-curricular activities, the methods of the nature of school organisation, particularly the type of discipline that prevails, over-all are going to affect the child’s personality.

Cruze is of opinion and rightly so that limited curricular offerings and failure to provide for individual differences are sometimes responsible for failure in class-work, habits of laziness, unruliness, day-dreaming, cheating, truancy and many other undesirable personality characteristics.

Over- aggressive and dominating, teachers encourage rebelliousness, resistance and emotional instability in children. Incompatible relationships between teachers and children may cause subject disabilities in reading, arithmetic or geography and these in turn may develop backwardness and feelings of inferiority.

A good school develops the child educatio­nally and mentally. It provides opportunities for receiving knowledge, to think, to reason and to develop a broader outlook on life. It develops the child socially and emotionally and thus contributes to personality development. Adequate recreational facilities and competent supervision, team games and cooperative enterprises will also develop socially desirable traits of personality in the children.

The personality of friends and classmates has a powerful effect on the child’s personality. He competes with some and cooperates with others. Such attitudes acquired in the school last for years and affect an individual’s approach to life and society. They become integrated into his personality.

Modern democratic trends are affecting our school organisation. Democratic procedures in the classroom and in the organisation of school programmes and activities have beneficial effects on personality development. Children learn the lessons if equality, freedom, fair play and respect for the rights and opinions of others. These attitudes engendered in schools play a vital role in shaping the society in future.

(c) Besides the home and the school, we are influenced by the various social roles that we have to play in various situations and relationship. Then there are rules and regulations of society or the group to which we belong. We develop habits of controlling our behaviour and conducting ourselves in conformity with these rules, called the social code. Other social factors that influence our personality are the cinema, the newspaper and the radio as well as the growing power of television.