One of the basic tasks of the proper upbringing of a child is to develop in it a strong sense of community, to be able to adapt to other people and to cooperate, as well as to create positive interpersonal relationships. From the absolute egocentrism of the newborn, the child must develop in the direction of an increasingly strong sociality. It must learn the discipline of community life, it must acquire the ability to respect people, to consider them equal to itself, to see so-workers in them; to approach people in a friendly and warm way, with sympathy and a sense of camaraderie, with the ability to make friends and love.
It should be borne in mind that all these are not only the demands of community life, but also the natural needs of every human being. Every man strives to connect with other people in a positive emotional relationship; every man carries within himself the need to love someone, to be emotionally close to someone, to have complete trust in someone and to find understanding, support and moral support in someone. But positive feelings towards other people can only be developed by a person who himself has experienced that the environment accepts him with positive feelings.
The basis for the development of sociality is parental love, of course, provided that it is a healthy, cheerful, constructive love. It gradually accumulates emotional capital in the child, which enables it to give something emotionally to the people around it. Only a man who owns something himself can give to others. The constructiveness of parental love is manifested in the form of proper educational procedures that strengthen the child’s sense of acceptance and lead it to increasingly productive cooperation in the community. Such educational methods should, of course, be applied by other educators; and they are obliged to take a positive emotional attitude towards the child. Otherwise, they have no right to raise children.
First of all, it is necessary for the child to feel that it is considered a full member of the family. It will acquire such a conviction if it is allowed to gradually gain increasing independence and the right to its own initiative and the possibility of free decision, in addition to which it is entrusted with its duties towards its family. Even a small child can do various small chores in the house, for example, it can pass various items to its parents while they are doing the housework; it can help care for a younger child; it can do various small favors for them, go to the store and help in various ways. This develops a sense of duty to the community and responsibility to other people. Educators encourage the child in this way because it gains the experience that adults count on it, that they care about its help and cooperation and that they add value to its activities. This is a prerequisite for the cooperation of people in the community. Recognition of personal value is a basic motivation that encourages a person to put their abilities in the service of the community. Therefore, no child activity should be underestimated; it should never be considered trivial, idle, or worthless entertainment. Everything a child does, plays or has fun with should be taken seriously; it should look for some meaning in every activity and acknowledge the same. This raises the value of the child in its own eyes, and thus encourages it to work more closely with the environment. By acknowledging one’s deeds, we also acknowledge the person; and the more one acknowledges someone, the more they give of themselves.
The child is very sensitive to equality and equity among people. That is why it is necessary for parents to treat their children in the same way. It is equally important that neither classroom teachers nor educators in any children’s institution make a distinction between children. However, it should be clear what equal treatment with children means. Literally treating multiple children equally is actually impossible. As soon as children differ in age, temperament, or any trait — and this always happens — it is impossible to treat them in the same way. The older child has different interests than the younger one; a more lively child expresses different needs than a calmer child; an intelligent child should be activated in a different way than the less gifted, etc.
However, in the right upbringing, equal treatment with children is not required in such a sense. Educators are required to show an equally sensitive attitude towards all their students. The child must not feel that its parents love it less than the other child as well as that its parents are more affectionate with it than its siblings. Educators must not have pets in any group of children, but also there shouldn’t be individuals who are neglected among other children. It should be strictly avoided to give any privileges or special rights to an individual family member, or to a class or other children’s group.
At first glance, it is an unusual requirement to give a child a sense of equality, and it is not yet a full-fledged human being, so it cannot be equal with adults. But the child does not carry in itself the need to be truly and in everything equal to adults. It just needs a subjective sense of equality. And it will experience this if the environment accepts it with the same emotions as other children, if it loves it, if it acknowledges its successes, entrusts it with various tasks, gives it the possibility of affirmation and thus satisfies all its natural aspirations. In such an educational atmosphere, the child feels like an equal member of the collective in which it lives, although it is not in the true sense of the word.
A sense of community also develops through fair action. Such a procedure is shown especially in those situations when you need to admit something to the child, praise it for something or it should be reprimanded or punished. If a child is once recognized for some success, it should also be acknowledged on another occasion; if we have praised one child for something, we should praise the other children for the same act. The same goes for reprimands. What the educator objected to one child, they should object to the other; what they once forbade, let them always defend. The educator’s justice also consists in rebuking the child only when it really deserves it, but also in praising it only in a truly justified case.
The child regularly reacts to unfair treatment of itself, especially to complaints, reprimands and punishments that it did not deserve, and to the denial of recognition when it deserved them, with resistance, mistrust, and even aggression towards educators. Often experiencing injustice destroys trust in people in general, so their sociality remains stunted.
From an early age, almost from the beginning of life, the child should get used to discipline. It must learn as soon as possible that life in the community follows certain rules, according to a certain order that must be followed if one wants the collective to accept it with positive feelings. Discipline has value only when it is an expression of a person’s spontaneous need, and is not the result of fear of the consequences of undisciplined behavior. Real discipline can develop in a child only when educators gradually and patiently form a useful habit in the rule. First of all, educators need to be disciplined themselves in order to serve as a positive example for the child, then they should persistently encourage it to disciplined behavior, praise it when it behaves properly and cause natural unpleasant consequences when the child does not adhere to cultural norms or the acceptable behavior.
The first foundations of behavioral discipline are laid by parents when they accustom the child to a certain rhythm in feeding, sleeping, defecating, and in other physiological functions. Later, it should be gradually developed through cultural and hygienic habits. The child should be consistently required to wash its hands before eating, to wash every day, to wipe its shoes when it enters the house, to greet the elderly, not to intrude on others, etc. Rules of good behavior will be accepted by the child only if it is convinced that these rules are equally valid for all members of the family, i.e. the children’s collective.
For the full development of children’s sociality, it is very important that the child socializes with other children as soon as it shows interest in it, and it appears at the end of the second year. Children’s sociality can develop unhindered only in a group consisting of equal members. If a child always moves among adults who live a different mental life, have completely different interests and aspirations, and they know much more about certain things, it will feel very insecure and will not have the courage or objective ability to practice taking an equal attitude towards other people. That is why adults and much older siblings are not a suitable company. It needs them as objects of identification, as educators, but they cannot serve as incentives for it to develop natural interpersonal relationships. Only among peers who have the same interests but also similar flaws and weaknesses can a child learn to work usefully with other people.
Natural children’s companions are brothers and sisters. The smaller the age difference between them, the better. But siblings are not a sufficient company. Jealousy and the struggle for prestige often arise among them. This makes it difficult for the child to develop a sense of community. In addition, brothers and sisters soon become too narrow and too monotonous a society. The child should therefore be allowed to find friends outside the family circle. This is already necessary for a preschool child. Along with the overall mental development, there is a need for an ever wider and more diverse environment in which the child will develop its abilities, gain experience and satisfy its aspirations. For all this, the family environment soon becomes too crowded.
Within the family, the child has a certain position that usually remains unchanged for years. When it joins other collectives, the child gets used to a different position within the human group. A child who feels neglected in the family, in another environment may find an opportunity to affirm itself, to experience its true value. And the self-satisfied child, who is used to being the center of attention in the family, is forced to become more modest in other collectives if it wants to be accepted with sympathy in them. The more it socializes with other children, the more different the types of children it comes in contact with, the more experience it gains in getting to know people. This makes it skillful, agile and resourceful in social life, which will serve it usefully when it grows up.
Parents are not only too skilled and experienced in their relationship with the child to be a real company, but they often caress it, giving it various benefits and privileges. The child does not experience all this among its peers. There, it achieves recognition only when it contributes to something in the children’s team, that is, when it adapts to it, when it cooperates with it. It is known that children exclude from their ranks an individual who stays aside, who underestimates peers or becomes annoying with its intrusiveness. The child tries to be accepted by its friends, so that is its best motivation to leave awkward, antisocial forms of behavior. That’s why children’s society often acts as a counter- to the parenting mistakes of parents, especially cuddling.
The company of other children is especially needed by the only child. When such a child turns three, it is useful to enroll it in kindergarten, so that it can spend a few hours during the day in the company of its peers. Older children, those of school age, need to be completely separated from their families for a short time and sent, for example, to group camps, summer vacations and various excursions. Such temporary separation from the family also has a good effect on possible emotional tensions and misunderstandings between parents and children. When they are separated for a while, and both calm down, they become more tolerant, so after the child returns to the family, contact can be established between them on a new, healthier basis. In the absence of the child, parents have more opportunities to think calmly about their behavior towards it, to notice their educational mistakes and to understand constructive advice on changing their attitude.
When parents send a child into society they will certainly strive for it to be healthy and decent children. But it is wrong to look for some perfect company for your child. It does not exist, and even if it did, it would not be useful for the child. Because every person meets some kind of people in life, once with mostly positive, other times with mostly negative traits, and most often with a combination of both. Among such people, an individual can live successfully, adapt to them and cooperate, provided that from an early age it has practiced coping with both positive and negative types of children. If we were to move only among perfect people in childhood, we would later find ourselves in contact with people who show major character flaws. One time we would fall for them because we would not see through them, another time we would unjustly condemn them because we would not understand them. It should not be forgotten that getting to know people is a very useful skill in life that should be acquired from early childhood.
Many parents are afraid that their child will become “spoiled” among other people’s children, so they jealously hold it close and hinder its natural need to develop sociality. The parent’s fear that the child will learn some vulgar expressions among their peers, that they will become disobedient, rude or lying, is usually exaggerated. If a child is raised properly at home, if the parents enjoy real authority and always provide positive examples of behavior, then negative phenomena among its peers will not take deep root. If a child learns a harsher word, it is no accident. It is a trifle towards the great harm that educators inflict on a child when they do not let it among other children. Such a child remains lonely, closed in on itself, fearful, incompetent, inflexible, egocentric in front of people, disappointed and unhappy.
It is wrong to underestimate its friends in front of the child. It should not be shown to be considered more valuable in any way than the group of children it associates with; in this way it becomes vain, conceited, with a sense of apparent superiority over its peers, and this makes it much more difficult to develop a constructive sociality. Parents should not ask for benefits for their child among other children, for example in kindergarten or school. One should not interfere in children’s play, one should not intervene for the benefit of one’s child, one should not take it into protection in front of other children, except when it is truly physically endangered. Such a procedure deprives the child of the opportunity to feel like an equal and full-fledged member of its group and to practice coping independently among peers and resolving various misunderstandings and conflicts.
It is unnecessary to play judge among children. They should learn to solve their own interpersonal problems on their own, and not shift the responsibility to others. Adults can never be completely objective in their judgments, so they will always blame one child excessively and take another unjustly into protection. Such a procedure deepens conflicts between children, and damages the educator’s authority because he interferes with both parties by interfering in children’s quarrels. If children who have quarreled or fought are left to fend for themselves, they will soon calm down spontaneously and continue playing as if nothing had happened. Adult intervention is only needed when there is a risk that children will injure each other. Then they should be separated until they calm down, not scolded or beaten.
It is useful for educators to develop peacefulness by responding to conflicts in a calm, cheerful, and humorous way and downplaying the motives of those conflicts. But this does not mean that every fight between children should always be prevented by force. If the child is aggressive, the blows returned by its playmates are the best means to wean it off aggression. And let the attacked child learn to defend itself on its own, and not to depend on the protection of adults. Because a healthy person does not attack another person, but they do not back down if they are endangered, instead they bravely defend themselves.
When the educator does not like the child’s behavior among other children, and therefore considers that he is obliged to warn of the mistake, it is necessary to do so alone with the child, and never in the presence of other children. In this way, the child will be spared the feeling of shame and humiliation in front of peers, and thus will preserve its safety among peers. A man finds it difficult to feel equal among people in front of whom he has experienced a violation of his prestige.