Peer relations: Impact on children's development | Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development
This lesson provides information for those interested in the importance peer relationships play in early childhood development. Peer relationships. When children play or interact with their peers, they are learning more about social behavior Early Childhood Peer Relationships Morrison adds that in her experience, many children go through a “you're not my friend” stage around age 4. 2 Self and Other, Edition: 1, Chapter: Peer Relationships in Childhood, for understanding individual differences in children's peer relationships linked with peer rejection in numerous studies (see Rubin et al., ) and around the world.
Problematic peer relations may have adverse effects on the transition to school, with subsequent consequences for academic success. Furthermore, even younger infants and toddlers often spend time with peers through informal arrangements between parents or formal child-care provision.
Domain 1: Relationship with Peers
There is considerable interest in the impact of early child care on development, but relatively few studies that actually investigate the quality of peer relations in the child- care context. It is especially important to study peer relations for children with special educational needs. Problems There are several important problems to address, which may be framed in terms of the following research questions: When do children first develop the ability to relate to other children their own age?
What skills promote early peer relations? Why are some young children less likely to be accepted by their peers? Research Context The information comes from a diverse group of studies. Most infants and toddlers meet peers on a regular basis, and some experience long-lasting relationships with particular peers that start at birth.
In the second year of life, they show both prosocial and aggressive behaviour with peers, with some toddlers clearly being more aggressive than others. I have proposed that early peer relations depend on the following skills that develop during the first two years of life: Children with developmental disorders who are impaired in joint attention skills6 and imitation7 and children with limited vocabularies2 may be at special risk, which may account for some of the problematic peer relations in mainstreamed preschool classrooms.
These methods show that some children are accepted by their peers, whereas others are either actively rejected or ignored. Studies show that highly aggressive children are not accepted by their peers9 but this may depend on gender. There are clear links between very early peer relations and those that occur later in childhood. Children who were without friends in kindergarten were still having difficulties dealing with peers at the age of However, the roots of peer rejection lie in the earliest years of childhood, and peer rejection is associated with educational underachievement, even when many other causal influences are taken into account.
Children who are competent with peers at an early age, and those who show prosocial behaviour, are particularly likely to be accepted by their peers. Aggressive children are often rejected by their peers, although aggression does not always preclude peer acceptance. It is clear that peer relations pose special challenges to children with disorders and others who lack the emotional, cognitive and behavioural skills that underlie harmonious interaction.Matt Curtis on the Benefits of Playing Outdoors as a Child
The risk for children with early behavioural and emotional problems is exacerbated by the peer rejection they experience. Conversely, early friendships and positive relations with peer groups appear to protect children against later psychological problems. Implications for Policy-Makers and Service-Providers The evidence just reviewed challenges long-held beliefs about the importance of peers in early development.
Whereas once we may have thought that peers began to have an influence on children during the primary school years and adolescence, it now seems possible that very early interactions with peers at home and in child-care settings could set the stage for later problems.
At the same time, these findings suggest that it is possible to act early to prevent later problems. Because peer acceptance is associated with better psychological adjustment and educational achievement, programs that support early competence with peers will have implications for educational and mental-health policy. Problems that have been noted in mainstreamed preschool classrooms may derive from underlying deficits that could be addressed directly.
Prosocial action in very early childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry ;40 6: Physical aggression and expressive vocabulary in month-old twins.
Developmental Psychology ;39 2: A precursor to serious aggression? Child Development ;71 2: Developmental Psychology ;39 1: Peer relations in childhood.
Parallel play starts in the toddler years and is characterized by side-by-side play with similar objects and toys, but seldom involves interaction among children.
Associative play is most common in the toddler stage, where children engage in a similar activity but have very little organization or rules. All of these skills are important in establishing healthy relationships with peers as children begin to engage in cooperative play with others in the pre-school years. Positive experiences and relationships with adults help children establish meaningful and special relationships with peers. Children experience interactions and behaviors with adults that help develop the social and emotional skills needed to positively interact with peers.
Children begin to gain self-awareness and demonstrate an interest in other children by simply observing or touching them. Observation and interest lead to imitation and simple interactions, such as handing over a toy or rolling a ball.
Older toddlers engage in more complex interactions and social exchanges during play while building social connections. Children this age mainly act on impulses and have difficulty controlling their emotions and behaviors, yet begin to learn appropriate social behaviors through the cues and information that their caregivers model for them.
Early Childhood Peer Relationships
This awareness eventually grows into understanding and behaving in a manner that is sensitive to what others are feeling. These successful interactions and experiences with others help children build self-confidence and a sense of self-worth.
Birth to 9 months Children begin to interact with their environment and people around them; an interest in other young children emerges. Indicators for children include: