When a child is first born they have no real social skills. They do what they can, which is cry, in order to get what they want. This is a very primitive reaction which is seen in infants all over the world. However, every society has characteristic patterns of thought and behavior that must be learned. This is known as socialization.
Socialization and Reinforcement
Sigmund Freud asserted that socialization is really a taming process. The id’s urges become less powerful as the rules of society are internalized. Freud believed that child is socialized by the “pain and pleasure principle”. In other words, a child will do what gives him/her pleasure and gratification, but will refrain from doing things that cause him/her pain or punishment.
Social Learning Theory
Many psychologists believe that a theory based on such simple concepts cannot do our human culture justice. This theory stresses observation as its essential basis.
Modeling
In the social learning theory, it is believed that socialization is learned through modeling. “... Social learning theorists regard observation learning as one of the most powerful mechanisms of socialization.”(Gleitman, 405). A young girl may see her mother washing real dishes in the sink and then proceed to perform the same action on her little plastic dishes. In one Central American society, young girls are given miniature replicas of brooms, grinding stones and water jars and are told to do what mommy does. They do what their mother does and eventually they master the skill themselves. An interesting fact to point out, though, is that the observer may not copy the model’s action at the time that he sees them and even though neither he nor his model receive a reward.
Imitation and Performance
Another aspect of the social learning theory is that of imitation and performance. Through a number of experiments, social learning theorists discovered that subjects are more likely to imitate people that they like or respect. The consequences that the model suffers will also determine whether or not the child imitates the action. In a study several groups of nursery school students were shown a film that featured an adult and a large, inflatable, rubber clown doll. The first group of students watched the adult walk over to the doll, yell at it and then proceed to beat it. The second group of students saw this plus the consequences that the adult faced. This group watched as a second adult came and threatened and then spanked the aggressor. After seeing the film, all of the children were brought into a room which contained the inflatable doll. They were then left alone and watched through a one way mirror. The children who only saw the first part of the film beat up o!
n the doll, but the children who saw the end of the film reacted in a more peaceful manner.


Cognitive Developmental Theory

The last theory of socialization involves actual understanding. Past theories of have inferred that a child just blindly imitates and really does not understand what he/she is doing. This theory states that children are not just passively molded. Conversely, they emphasize the role of understanding in the socialization process. This in known as cognitive development.
Imitation through Understanding
Understanding plays a critical role in imitation and performance. This can be seen in the way a child relates their body to their model’s. Consider a little boy watching his father putting on his shoes. The little boy has to relate his own shoes and body to those of his father. “... It is hardly surprising that children imitate more accurately as they get older, for their ability to utilize what they see the model do presumably increases with their cognitive development.” (Yando, Seitz, and Zigler, 407).
The Desire for Competence
The motive for imitation is another factor. The child wants to be an active agent instead of being a passive object in life. They want to do things by themselves. They like to show off what they know. You will often hear, “Watch me do it! Look at me do it!” coming from a child’s mouth after they learn a new skill. A child’s imitation of an adult is no longer child’s play, but rather an acknowledgment that the adult knows more than the child.
All three theories have their own strong points, but the one that is the most