While people often think of smiling as only an indication that a child might find something funny, it is actually one of the most important forms of social communication. Smiling appears within the first few weeks of life as a response to a human voice and becomes a full-fledged social smile at about three months of age. As a social behavior it encourages parents to interact with developing infants and thereby helps ensure the infant will be cared for as well as socialized into the culture, which the parents represent. In other words, it promotes bonding. Child development specialists have studied smiling and have found it to be a complex behavior that is integral to a child's healthy development. For example, the more infants smile, the more time their mothers spend with them. Children who do not smile early and often are not just unhappy. Rather, there is some other issue at hand that needs professional attention.
See also: PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT; SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
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