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Peer Relationships How Children Develop (3rd ed.) Siegler, DeLoache & Eisenberg Chapter 13.

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Presentation on theme: "Peer Relationships How Children Develop (3rd ed.) Siegler, DeLoache & Eisenberg Chapter 13."— Presentation transcript:

1 Peer Relationships How Children Develop (3rd ed.) Siegler, DeLoache & Eisenberg Chapter 13

2 I. What’s Special About Peer Relationships? Peers are people of approximately the same age and status. Theorists such as Piaget, Vygotsky, and Sullivan have argued that peer relationships provide a unique context for cognitive, social, and emotional development. In their view, the equality, reciprocity, cooperation, and intimacy that can develop in peer relationships enhance children’s reasoning ability and their concern for others.

3 Overview Friendships Status in the Peer Group Role of Parents in Children’s Peer Relationships

4 Friendships

5 Intimate, reciprocated positive relationships between people The degree to which the conditions of friendship become evident in peer interactions increases with age during childhood.

6 Early Peer Interactions Some researchers have argued that children can have friends by or before age 2. Even 12- to 18-month-olds seem to select and prefer some children over others. Starting at around 20 months of age, children also increasingly initiate more interactions with some children than with others.

7 Early Peer Interactions By the age of 2, children begin to develop skills that allow greater complexity in their social interactions. These include imitating other people’s social behavior, engaging in cooperative problem solving, and reversing roles during play. These more complex skills tend to be in greater evidence in the play of friends than of nonfriends.

8 Developmental Changes Between ages 6 and 8, children define friendship primarily on the basis of actual activities and view friends in terms of rewards and costs. Between the early school years and adolescence, children increasingly experience and define their friendships in terms of mutual liking, closeness, and loyalty. More than younger friends, adolescents use friendship as a context for self- exploration and working out personal problems.

9 Dimensions on Which Elementary School Children Often Evaluate Their Friendships DimensionIndicators Validation and Caring Makes me feel good about my ideas. Tells me I am good at things. Conflict Resolution Make up easily when we have a fight. Talk about how to get over being mad. Conflict and Betrayal Argue a lot. Doesn’t listen to me. Help and Guidance Help each other with schoolwork a lot. Loan each other things all the time. Companionship and Recreation Always sit together at lunch. Do fun things together a lot. Intimate Exchange Always tell each other our problems. Tell each other secrets.

10 Functions of Friendships Friends can provide a source of emotional support, validation and security. Can help to develop social and cognitive skills by providing feedback. The support of friends can be particularly important during difficult transition periods. Friendships may also serve as a buffer against unpleasant experiences. Among children who were victimized by peers, children who showed increases in adjustment problems a year later were those who did not have a reciprocated best friendship (i.e., a friendship in which two children view each other as best or close friends).

11 Possible Costs of Friendships In elementary school, children who have antisocial and aggressive friends tend to exhibit antisocial and aggressive tendencies themselves. However, it is unclear whether having aggressive friends actually causes children and adolescents to behave aggressively or if aggressive children gravitate toward one another.

12 Possible Costs of Friendships Whether having an aggressive friend affects a child’s own behavior over time may depend on the child’s baseline level of aggression. Young adolescents who are somewhat aggressive and disruptive, but who do not yet exhibit a high level of such behavior, seem to be the most vulnerable to the negative influence of aggressive and disruptive friends.

13 Possible Costs of Friendships The extent to which friends’ use of drugs and alcohol may put an adolescent at risk seems to depend, in part, on the nature of the child-parent relationship. If the adolescent’s parents are authoritative in their parenting rather than cold and detached, the adolescent is more likely to be protected against peer pressure to use drugs.

14 Choice of Friends By age 7, children tend to like peers who are similar to themselves in the cognitive maturity of their play and in their aggressive behavior. Fourth- to eighth-grade friends are more similar than nonfriends in prosocial behaviors, antisocial behavior, peer acceptance, and academic motivation. Adolescent friends tend to have similar interests, attitudes, and behavior.

15 Status in the Peer Group

16 Measurement of Peer Status The most common method used to assess peer status is to ask children to rate how much they like or dislike each of their classmates or to nominate some of those whom they like the most or least, or whom they do or don’t like to play with. The information from these procedures is used to calculate children’s sociometric status – a measurement of the degree to which children are liked or disliked by their peers as a group.

17 Characteristics Associated with Sociometric Status Peer status is affected by the child’s: Attractiveness Athletic ability Social behavior Personality Cognitions about self and others Goals when interacting with peers Peer status is also influenced by the status of the child’s friends.

18 Common Sociometric Categories CategoryDescription PopularChildren who receive many positive nominations and few negative nominations. RejectedChildren who receive many negative nominations and few positive nominations. NeglectedChildren who are low in social impact (i.e., they receive few positive or negative nominations). These children are not especially liked or disliked by peers; they simply go unnoticed. AverageChildren are designated as average if they receive an average number of both positive and negative nominations. ControversialChildren who receive many positive and many negative nominations. They are noticed by peers and are liked by a quite a few children and disliked by quite a few others.

19 Popular Children A category of sociometric status that refers to children or adolescents who are viewed positively by many peers and are viewed negatively by few peers. These individuals... Tend to be skilled at initiating interactions with peers and at maintaining positive relationships. Tend to be cooperative, friendly, sociable, and sensitive to others. Are not prone to intense negative emotions and regulate themselves well. Tend to be less aggressive than average children.

20 Popular Children Important to differentiate between children who are popular in terms of sociometric measures and those who are perceived by peers as being popular with others. Individuals with high status in the peer group are often labeled “popular” by peers, but tend to be above average in aggression and use it to obtain their goals. The relationship between perceived popularity and aggression is especially high in adolescence, particularly among high-status girls, who may use relational aggression to hurt others by spreading rumors or withholding friendship.

21 Rejected Children A category of sociometric status that refers to children or adolescents who are liked by few peers and disliked by many peers. A majority of rejected children tend to fall into two categories: Aggressive- Rejected Withdrawn- Rejected

22 Aggressive-Rejected Children Are especially prone to hostile and threatening behavior, physical aggression, disruptive behavior, and delinquency. About 40% to 50% of rejected children tend to be aggressive. When they are angry or want their own way, many rejected children also engage in relational aggression. Aggressive behavior often underlies rejection by peers. However, not all aggressive peers are rejected; some develop a network of aggressive friends.

23 Withdrawn-Rejected Children Are socially withdrawn, wary, and often timid Make up about between 10-25% of the rejected category Not all socially withdrawn children are rejected or socially excluded. Rather, it appears that withdrawn behavior combined with negative actions or emotions is correlated with rejection, although this pattern may change with age.

24 Social Cognition and Social Rejection Rejected children, particularly those who are aggressive, tend to differ from more popular children in their social motives and their processing of information in social situations. Are also more likely to attribute hostile motives to others in negative social situations and to have more difficulty than other children in finding constructive solutions to difficult social situations.

25 Neglected Children A category of sociometric status that refers to children or adolescents who are infrequently mentioned as liked or disliked. Display relatively few behaviors that differ greatly from those of many other children Appear to be neglected primarily because they are not noticed

26 Controversial Children A category of sociometric status that refers to children or adolescents who are liked by quite a few peers and are disliked by quite a few others Tend to have characteristics of both popular and rejected children. Some peers view such children as arrogant and snobbish.

27 Fostering Children’s Peer Acceptance Social skills training is a common approach for assisting rejected children. Based on the assumption that rejected children lack social skills that promote positive interaction with peers. These deficits are viewed as occurring at three levels: 1. Lack of social knowledge 2. Performance problems 3. Lack of appropriate monitoring and self-evaluation

28 Fostering Children’s Peer Acceptance Some social skills training programs teach children: To pay attention to what is going on in a group of peers To rehearse skills related to participating with peers To cooperate To communicate in positive ways For aggressive-rejected children, some training programs focus on changing faulty social perception.

29 Peer Status as a Predictor of Risk Rejected children, especially those who are aggressive, are more likely than their peers to have difficulties in the academic domain. The tendency of rejected children to do more poorly in school worsens over time. Approximately 25% to 30% of rejected children drop out of school compared with 8% or less of other children.

30 Relation of Children’s Sociometric Status to Academic and Behavioral Problems

31 Problems with Adjustment Children who are rejected in the elementary school years, especially aggressive-rejected boys, are at risk for externalizing symptoms (i.e., showing outwardly expressed behavior problems such as aggression, delinquency, attention disorders, conduct disorder, and substance abuse). These symptoms appear to increase between grades six and ten.

32 Problems with Adjustment Peer rejection may also be associated with internalizing problems (i.e., internally expressed problems such as loneliness, depressive, withdrawn behavior, and obsessive-compulsive behavior). In one study, both boys and girls who were assessed as rejected in third grade were at risk for developing internalizing problems years later. Children in Western cultures who are very withdrawn but nonaggressive with peers are also at risk for internalizing problems.

33 Problems with Adjustment Children, especially males, who are socially withdrawn with familiar peers may differ in important ways from their peers even in adulthood. Men who were withdrawn children have been observed to have less stable careers and marriages than their peers, and females who were withdrawn as girls have been characterized as less likely than other women to have careers outside the home.

34 Problems with Adjustment Rejected children who are victimized, that is, who are targets of their peers’ aggressive and demeaning behavior, may be especially at risk for loneliness and other internalizing behavior. Victimized children tend to be aggressive as well as withdrawn and anxious.

35 The Role of Parents in Children’s Peer Relationships

36 Relations Between Attachment and Competence with Peers Security of the parent-child relationship is linked with quality of peer relationships. Probably arises from both the early and the continuing effect that parent-child attachment has on the quality of the child’s overall social behavior Also possible that characteristics of children, such as sociability, influence both the quality of attachments and the quality of relationships with peers

37 Quality of Parent-Child Interactions and Peer Relationships Parent-child interactions are associated with peer relationships in much the same way that attachment patterns are. Mothers of popular children are more likely than mothers of less popular children to discuss feelings with their children and to use warm control, positive verbalizations, reasoning, and explanations. Fathers’ parenting practices in general appear to be somewhat less closely related to children’s social competence and sociometric status.

38 Parental Beliefs and Behaviors Parents of children who are socially competent with peers are more likely to: Believe that they should play an active role in teaching their children social skills Provide opportunities for peer interaction

39 Gatekeeping, Coaching, and Modeling Parents act as gatekeepers, controlling opportunities for peer interactions. Preschoolers whose parents arrange and oversee opportunities for them to interact with peers tend to be more positive and social with peers and to have more companions – so long as their parents are not overly controlling during the interactions.

40 Gatekeeping, Coaching, and Modeling Preschool children tend to be more popular if their parents effectively coach them in how to deal with unfamiliar peers. Parents also influence their children’s competence with peers by modeling socially competent and incompetent behaviors.


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