Social Training Wheels

training wheels


I’m obsessed with the book, The Pressured Child, by Michael Thompson, Ph.D.  If I wouldn’t be cited with plagiarism, I’d just scan the entire book and post it.  There is that much useful information.  The book gears itself more toward the beginning elementary through high school parent/student but it is very easy to see useful information for all stages.  As an educator, this is an invaluable resource.

I believe the crux of this book is about coping and social development.  Most of us already know that socialization begins at birth and it becomes more complex as we move forward in life.

Preschool is the training wheels for getting on the big boy/girl bike.  It is in this environment that children learn how to navigate in the simplest of social settings.  Learning the ABC’s of social interaction dominates the day for young children and the hardest thing for parents to understand is that children think differently than we do.  When children congregate in school, talking, touching, and reassuring one another, they are practicing their social skills with as much intensity as an orchestra practices a complex piece of music.  Social development amounts to a kind of symphony of its own and if you want to play with the orchestra, you’ve got to know how to read the music. (Thompson, 2004. pg. 59)

As parents, I know, at times, it is hard to see your child going through a rough patch on the social front and that is when you most want to spring into protective mode.  Please try to take the opportunity and use it as a teaching tool – instill confidence in your child that they are “cool” just the way they are and if being rejected by one child remember that there are other children in the classroom who would be lucky and want to have him/her as a friend.

Urie Bronfenbrenner was a renowned developmental psychologist and one of the co-founders of Head Start. He developed a bioecological model that provides the whole picture of the developing child. You can read more about his theory here. Another great theorist was Eric Erickson and if interested in learning about his 8 Stages of Human Development you can learn more about it here. I believe that both psychologists provide easy to understand theory’s on why people behave in certain ways and how they socially develop through life.

My children are almost grown and I see how complex the relationships are in the social jungle of high school.  Teaching children early coping social strategies will help benefit their overall ability to become bright, empathetic and great kids later on.






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