According to Sorensen, "By social growth and development we mean in increasing ability to get along with oneself and others". The child is very selfish. All the interests are centered round himself. He wants others to watch him, to see him play, eat, and sleep. It is only gradually through play and works with other children of his age that he learns to think of others and shares his things with them.
The individual interacts with his environment. He tries to adjust himself continually. Thus his social growth takes place. The children in their child-hood are dependent on their parents. When they become mature, the dependence should give place to self-care. This is what is meant by progressive improvement of the individual child.
The child's development consists largely in becoming a social being. Social development means growing in ability of an individual to live, move and work as a member of the society. Gradually he learns social forms of behavior, manners, customs, etiquette, traditions etc.
The child, as he grows, learns to examine the social institutions of the community. He tries to get acquainted with the ideals of social responsibility of educational institutions is to prepare young people to live in society. This preparation begins in the family to work, to live and to co-operate with others.
Social growth of child implies that the child continually adjusts himself to the social environment around him. The development of social behavior is linked up with other types of behavior — physical, intellectual, emotional and attitudinal. One might take it for granted that child is simply forced to become a social being.
Stages of Social Development
The child passes through several stages for his social growth. As soon as he is capable to take notice at all, he notices people. The first object that he definitely looks at is some human face. It is about the age of few weeks the infant becomes aware of people in the home. By the age of two months, His own face looks bright with a smile at the sight of faces of the members of family.
Some psychologists also hold that it is the second month, that the infant hears adult calls and begins to distinguish his mother. In about six months, the child begins to respond to other members. At 10 months, he delights in playing with an adult. By 12 months, he enters the initiative stage and he tries to do what he sees others are doing.
Child's social development follows a pattern. No child is born social, unsocial or anti-social. He is even not gregarious at first. It is said that "socialization does not proceed in a vacuum". If the child is to learn to live socially with others, he must have opportunities to learn to do so.
For the first year or more, the social environment of most young children consists of persons who are his superiors in strength and ability. They are in other words, adults. With this experience the child cannot learn how to deal with his equals. So the child should be placed in a group of his contemporaries at the age of 18 months in a Nursery School or the like.
By age of 3 years children like to play side by side with the same materials. They play house with several other children by the age of 4 years. Year by year the children grow and develop. The social development depends very largely on the growth of intelligence and knowledge.
Even before a child enters school, he benefits from social contacts with persons outside his family and neighbor-hood. A Nursery School or Kindergarten provides a child excellent opportunities for learning to be social. The pre-school child is very much self-centred and plays alone. He does not like to share his play-things with others.
Only after joining school, the child begins to share things with his friends. Of course, he chooses some with whom he is more intimate. The child keeps contact not only with children of his own age, but with adults of different ages. As a result, there is a gradual increase in social participation and interaction with others.
In course of time, social awareness increases and so does child's social responsibility. During adolescence, he strongly feels that he has a right to be accepted as an adult. His first social contracts are done with adults.
As adolescents, they want to join counsels at home and also at the school. Wise parents and teachers should allow them to share responsibility and manage affairs. Young people follow the example set by parents and teachers. Often the adolescents take one of their friends as a model and start all that he does.
Some psychologists stress on harmful effects which unhealthy home environment has on social adjustments of children, Homes in which parents are always quarrelling with each other, where there is great poverty, where parents drink, commit crimes, beat their children or quarrel with neighbors turn out children with bad views of society and its working.
Similarly, schools in which discipline is very strict, teachers are hard-task-masters, punishment is common and severe and pupils are cursed and hated, develop children in very wrong directions. Happily, modern educators and psychologists are aware of the harmful effects of such factors on the social development of children.
Social development works as the bedrock of human personality. During early childhood and late childhood period rapid changes occurred in the habits and attitudes of the children.
During early-childhood period parents are to be careful as child spends most of his time with parents in home. Parental attitude, social status, involvement in community works greatly influence the soft mind of the child.
Love, affection and sympathy should be provided for healthy social development of the child. Child gets entry into pre-school in this period, where he gets exposure to peer groups, teachers and guardians. Concept of, we feeling, friendship and mutual-understanding should be foster among the students through the sincere attempts of the teacher.
Late-Childhood is the period of groupism, leadership. Child spends most of his time in school and with friends away from the home. Teachers should adopt-proper methods of teaching as regards to the age and interest of the child.
As children are fond of stories and play, teacher should adopt story telling and play way method to draw the attention of the children. Apart from this teachers should look into the social habits and interaction of the child in a group. Teachers are to take steps for the socialization of the child in during this period.