Recognising parental influence on society

Many parents believe that during pregnancy they are capable of influencing the child’s intellectual and social development later on in life through sensory stimulation.  Fetus’s sensory structures are undoubtedly present early on in prenatal development.  However, studies show that, despite the fact that some learned preferences in utero last for a small window of time after birth, these preferences are not enduring and will fade before making a lasting impact on the child.  


Additionally, many mothers believe that, that increased sensory stimulation, such as listening to music, during pregnancy will influence a child’s preferences and intellectual development later in life.  However, scientists have also concluded that this increased stimulation is unnecessary, and a normal amount of stimulation that a fetus will have just by having the mother live a normal life is more than enough.   In short, despite popular beliefs, various efforts from parents during pregnancy are deemed unnecessary and ineffective in manipulating a child’s intellectual or social development (aside from influence from teratogens, obviously).


However, after the birth of their child, parents have crucial roles in impacting different aspects of their child’s development in a variety of ways, especially regarding behavioral/social development


As a parent, one of the greatest influences you can have on the development of your child is the parenting style that you employ when interacting with them.  Many recognise the authoritative parenting style as the most suitable for proper parenting that generally yields positive results in behavioral development in children.


Authoritative parenting is defined by parents that are both demanding and supportive of their child.  Parents set known expectations for their child in a variety of arenas including academic achievement, social behavior, and familial relationships.  Along with these expectations, parents are also extremely supportive in the child’s various endeavors and express love and support regardless of a child’s success or failure.  Authoritative parents are responsive and accepting of their children, but also enforce a sense of control and authority over their children.


Enforcing control while still maintaining a sense of acceptance may seem like a difficult balance to sustain.  However, there are various methods you can use to do so.  First, it is important that your child maintains a consistently high sense of self-esteem throughout their lives, most importantly their childhood and adolescence.  Toddlers and little kids generally have few self-esteem issues, however, the beginning of school and adolescence brings about an onslaught of self-esteem issues stemming from the physical and social changes associated with puberty.  Kids begin to compare themselves to their peers in many aspects of life, which can lead to negative conceptions of the self.


Those with low self-esteem tend to dwell on their negative characteristics and failures, which can lead to larger issues of depression and anxiety.  To avoid this for your child during those tough teenage years, make sure to use a nurturing, democratic parenting style and constantly show affection and support.  While it may seem difficult at times, you want to avoid being too overprotective of your children and allow them to develop a sense of independence and accomplishment.


Individual’s beliefs about their self will largely affect their motivation to achieve.  Parents who praise their children for working hard and expending solid effort will ultimately foster a growth mindset within their children.  This growth mindset is defined by an individual who believes that his or her outcomes are attributed to effort rather than innate abilities. Additionally, these children enjoy challenges and persist despite failure.  Parents should avoid praising or criticising children based on their individual traits, as this will encourage the development of a fixed mindset within children.


In this fixed mindset, children will base their sense of self worth on approval from others, and will ultimately seek out situations in which they cannot fail.  They believe that success or failure is attributed to aspects of the self, and that their intelligence is static and unable to develop further.  These ideas of growth and fixed mindset largely affect a child’s achievement motivation, and will ultimately either encourage or discourage them from high achievement later on in life.


As a parent, it is necessary to recognise the importance of the development of behaviors in children and how this can impact a child’s social development.   As a parent, there are various ways one can influence the types of behaviours a child exhibits, such as reinforcement and punishment techniques.

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