The Signs & Symptoms of Socialization Problems in Children

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The first three years of an infant’s development are marked by dramatic emotional changes. A preschool child learns how to regulate his emotions, play with others and think more independently. Problems with socialization are usually evident during these early years and can be identified by the presence of one or more “red flags.” If you see a pattern of socialization problems with your child, seek professional help and counseling to work through the issues at as early an age as possible.

Early Relationships

During the preschool years, a child develops a basic sense of trust of the world around her, through experiencing safe relationships with her primary caregivers. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, an infant’s brain has approximately 100 billion nerves that need environmental stimulation to form connections determining a child’s emotional development. Attentive, nurturing care is essential to form the healthy brain connections necessary for proper emotional development. Primary caregivers spend the most time with their infants, making them the chief architects of emotional development of their infants.

Resists Touch

A child who does not like to be touched or held may have a socialization problem. A well socialized child seeks parental touch and affection when he is insecure, lonely or feeling affectionate. A child who does not like to be touched may exhibits signs such as arching his back when held, pushing away a caregiver or becoming aggressive if approached. Look for a pervasive pattern, rather than a situational reaction as an indicator of a socialization problem.

Overly Dependent

By contrast, a child who is overly dependent or clinging to a caregiver may also have a socialization problem. He may be fearful of most new situations and freeze when asked to try something new. Events that instill joy in many children, such as going on a field trip, meeting new children or learning something new, may cause terror in an under-socialized child. He may not be easily comforted, no matter how many reassurances are offered, and her fears may tend to be excessive.

Uninvolved or Uninterested

An uninvolved child may not express any curiosity when exposed to new situations. Typically, she will not express a preference for her own caregivers over anyone else. There is no stranger anxiety and touch is met with indifference. An uninvolved child does not express feelings, even when exposed to situations that cause physical pain, hurt, or distress to most children.