Chapter 13 Child Psych: Peer Relationships

Anna Freud and Sophie Dann’s Research
Sample: group of orphans liberated from Nazi concentration camp at end of WW2
Findings: first evidence of importance of peer relationships
Special about Peer Relationships?
Piaget, Vygotsky and others argued that PR provide a unique context for cognitive, social and emotional development
intimate, reciprocated positive relationships between people
Early Peer interactions
By or before 2: some have argued they can have friends
Many 12-18 month: children seem to select and prefer some children over others
Starting around 20 months: children increasingly initiate more interactions with some children than with others
By age 2: begin to develop skills that allow greater complexity of social interaction: walking, talking
By age 3/4: can make and maintain friendships
By age 3-7: can have “best friends” that are stable over at least several months
Between 6-8: define friendship primarily on basis of actual activities and view friends in terms of rewards and costs
Early school-adolescence: increasingly experience and define friendships in terms of mutual likings, closeness and loyalty
Adolescence: use friendship as context for self-exploration and working out personal problems
Functions of Friendships
Provide source of emotional support and security
Important during transition periods
Serves as buffer against unpleasant events
Linked to decreases in adjustment problems when reciprocated
Functions in Adolescents
Report friends are more important confidants of support than parents BUT in highly stressful situations, support from adults may be more important for child’s well being
Age trends of Self-Disclosure
Friends: most important during adolescents, decreases when married
Romantic Partner: most important in college and when married
Parents: decreases during adolescent period and increases after marriage and in college
Social and Cognitive Skills of Friendships
provide context for development of social skills and knowledge needed to form + relationships with others.
Promote cognitive skills and enhance performance on creative tasks
Provide opportunities to get constructive feedback about behavior and ideas
Gender Differences
Late elementary: girls feel friendship are more intimate and provide more validation, care, help than boys. Girls more likely to co-ruminate with close friends, boys less socially anxious. Boy and girl friendships similar in terms of companionship and recreational opportunities
Benefits of Having friends
Preadolescence: reciprocated best friend relates not only to positive social outcomes in middle childhood, but also to self-perceived competence and adjustment in adulthood
Causal relationship difficult to establish
Possible Cost of Friendships
Effects of having an aggressive friend on child behavior over time amy depend on the child’s baseline level of aggression
Young adolescence who are somewhat aggressive seem to be most vulnerable to negative influence of aggressive friends
Extent to which friends use drugs and alcohol
Choice of Friends: preschool
Proximity is key in selection
similarity in age
preference for same-sex friends emerges
peers of the same race (to lesser degree)
Choice of Friends: by age 7
tend to like peers who arwe similar to themselves in cognitive maturity of their play and in their aggressive behavior
Choice of Friends: 4th-8th grade
friends are more similar than non friends in prosocial behaviors, antisocial behavior, peer acceptance and academic motivation
friends tend to have similar interests, attitudes and behavior
Nature of Young child groups
Preschool: clear dominance hierarchy among peer group members
Middle childhood: status in peer groups involves more than dominance and children become very concerned about their peer group status
friendship groups that children voluntarily form or join themselves
Mid Childhood: includes 3-9 people usually same sex and race
Age 11: much of children’s social interactions occur within the clique
School years: children central to peer group likely to be popular, athletic, cooperative and seen as leaders and studious relative to others
Age 11-18: increase in # of adol. who have ties to many cliques and increase in stability of cliques
Adol.: children place high value on being in popular group and conform to group norms like dress/behavior
Although older adol. seem to be less tied to cliques, they still often belong to crowds
Being associated with a crowd may enhance or hurt reputation and influence how peers treat them
Romantic relationships: Selection criteria
young adol. tend to select partners that bring status
Older adol. more likely to select partner based on compatibility and characteristics that enhance intimacy
Negative Influences
represented by membership in gangs
Family Influences
affect potential for peer-group influences to promote problem behavior
adol. who don’t live with father/stepfather and have bad relationship with mother are especially vulnerable to such pressure
Rich-get-richer hypothesis
Social-compensation hypothesis
Cyberspace and online communication
online communication impairs existing friendship quality by displacing time spent on strengthening friendships OR internet-based communication are designed to facilitate existing friendship communication
Cyberspace risks
Cyberspace benefits
Cyber support
Sociometric Status
most common method used to assess peer status is to ask children
Info from these procedures is used to calculate children’s sociometric status
Measures the degree to which children are liked or disliked by peers as a group
Common sociometric categories
Popular, rejected, neglected, average, controversial
category of sociometric status that refers to children or adolescents who are viewed positively by many peers and are viewed negatively by few
Characteristics of Popular
Skilled at initiating interactions with peers and maintaining positive relationships
Cooperative, friendly, sociable and sensitive to others
Not prone to intense negative emotions and regulate well
Less aggressive than average
Rejected children
who are liked by few peers and disliked by many peers
tend to differ from more popular children in social motives and processing of info in social settings
More likely to attribute hostile motives to others
Have more difficulty than other in finding constructive solutions to difficult social situations
Agressive-Rejected Children
Especially prone to hostile and threatening physical behavior. About 50% tend to be aggressive
When angry or want their way, many engage in relational aggression
Withdrawn-Rejected Children
socially withdrawn, wary and often timid
Make up about 10-25% of rejected category
not all socially withdrawn children are rejected or socially excluded
Neglected Children
children 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 because they aren’t noticed
Controversial Children
children who are liked by quite few people
Tend to have characteristics of both popular and unpopular children
Viewed by some peers as arrogant and snobbish
Social Skill Deficits
Lack of Social Knowledge
Performance problems
Lack of appropriate monitoring and self-evaluation
Developmental Trends
1. Major predictors of popularity don’t seem to change substantially with age
2. Although aggression is frequent predictor of rejection in childhood, overt aggression appears to play a less important role in peer rejection in adolescence
3. Withdrawn behavior seems to become a more important predictor of peer rejection with increasing age in childhood
Peer Status as Predictor of Risk
Rejected children, especially aggressive ones, are more likely than peers to have difficulties in academic domain
Externalizing problems
Children rejected in elementary school years, especially aggressive-rejected boys, are at risk for externalizing symptoms
Symptoms appear to increase between grades 6-10
Internalized problems
Peer rejection may also be associated with internally expressed problems
Boys and girls who were assessed as rejected in 3rd grade were at risk for developing internalizing problems years later
Children in western cultures who are very withdrawn, but nonaggressive with peers, were also at risk for internalizing problems
Relation b/w Attachment and Competence w/ Peers
Security of the parent-child relationship is linked with quality of peer relationships
Parent-child interactions and peer relationships
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, reasonings and explanations
Fathers parenting practices in general appear to be somewhat less closely related to child’s social competence
Preschoolers whose parents arrange and oversee opportunities for them to interact with peers: tend to be more + and social with peers and have more companions
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