is a socialization
process that is bidirectional; children socialize parents
just as parents socialize children. For example, the interaction of mothers and their infants is sometimes symbolized as a dance or dialogue in which following actions of the partners are closely coordinated. This coordinated dance or dialogue can assume the form of mutual synchrony
, or it can be reciprocal in a more precise sense. The actions of the partners can be matched, as when one partner imitates the other or when there is mutual smiling.
When reciprocal socialization has been investigated in infancy, mutual gaze or eye contact has been found to play an important role in early social interaction. In sum, the behaviors of mothers and infants involve substantial interconnection and synchronization. And in some investigations, synchrony in parent-child relationships was positively related to children’s social competence.
One example of parental response to children’s behavior is the elicitation of scaffolding
behavior, which in turn affects the level of behavior children show in the future. Scaffolding refers to parental behavior that serves to support children’s efforts, allowing them to be more skillful than they would if they relied only on their own abilities.