The process of acquiring norms, values and beliefs, which are considered significant in a society, is called socialization. It is the process of transmitting cultural values, preferences and patterns of behavior to children. This is done by various processes, institutions and people. Socialization involves regulating children’s behavior and disciplining their undesirable or inappropriate behavioral tendencies.

Parents, families, children’s peer groups, schools, religious institutions and mass media such as television are some important agents of socialization. They influence the process of child rearing directly as well as indirectly and reinforce culturally appropriate modes of thought and behaviour.

Early childhood is a crucial period of development because during this period children learn a great deal about the norms, conventions and practices in their families, society and culture. They acquire language and learn the fundamentals of culture. The primary socializing agents during this period are the family members.

Middle childhood is the time when influence of peers and school becomes prominent, though family context remains important. The effect of media such as television and computers is undeniable. This is the time when social stereotypes and prejudices are most likely to develop.

Much research has been done on the impact of parenting styles on the socialization of the child. There are 4 main types of parenting styles:

  1. Authoritarian style: demanding, controlling, insensitive parenting
  2. Permissive style: indulgent, non-demanding parenting
  3. Authoritative style: firm, consistent parenting, reasons given for discipline
  4. Neglectful or uninvolved style: disinterested uncaring, low control and communication

Besides family, peers, media and school, there are other factors which influence the socialization process.

Ethnicity and socio-economic status of the parents makes an impact on the child’s development directly and indirectly. Ethnicity is linked to family size, structure, education, income, composition, extended networks.