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Prosocial And Proactive: Peer Relationships In Middle Childhood

Peer relationships are essential to a child's life during middle childhood. This article illustrates the impact positive peer relationships have on children during middle childhood. The aspects of family, parents, and friendships play a large role in a child's life during this time that may be significant to all parts of their life.

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Friendships among Boys and Girls: What's the Difference?


Friendships among boys are considered extensive. They generally have larger friend groups than girls and play outdoors rather indoors. In relation to this image, it shows the fact that boys focus more on dominance and competition such as joking in an insulting way as to say who is better than the other. On the other hand, friendships among girls are considered more intensive. They often play in smaller groups or pairs compared to the larger groups that boys play amongst. They normally remain indoors when participating in certain activities. Also, their friendships are characterized by agreement or self-disclosure. This is portrayed in the image above through their compliments to each other.

Designer, Mediator, Supervisor, or Advisor: Which one are you?


The family may play a specific role in a child's peer relationship whether it be a designer, mediator, supervisor, or an advisor. This image depicts the role of the designer in which the family, or parents, may influence or control the setting of the interactions in which the child is involved in including at school or daycare. This image reflects the way in which the 'family' allows for the child to interact with children in the neighborhood as a way of socializing or finding friends. The other half of the image portrays the mediator in which the 'family' arranges a play date for the child as a way of creating or 'bridging' their social network. The mediator role is influential through the parents' role as it provides benefits for children who are well-accepted and may even improve their peer status further. The supervisor role is one that reflects the family monitoring and intervening in interactions only when it is needed while the advisor role reflects a role that teaches children how to manage problems among their peers.

Friendship: What is it?


Friendships are characterized as a mutual liking of another person. Friends are people that you want to spend time with and may help children develop necessary social skills. Children in middle childhood are able to understand that these friendships are reciprocal and may often times continue as time goes on. This image portrays the idea that a child may find someone that they like and that likes them which then develops into a friendship. Thus, this results in them 'doing stuff' together and spending time with one another. These friendships during middle childhood are often described by certain characteristics such as loyalty, caring, cooperation, and trust.

Theoretically speaking...


Sullivan's Theory of Interpersonal Relationships states the impact that relationships have on development such as the fulfillment of social needs. During middle childhood, children have an increased need for playmates and begin the socialization process. Cliques begin to emerge in late childhood which may involve either one or both of the two types of peer relationships: vertical and horizontal. Vertical relationships, as seen in the movie Mean Girls referenced above, reflect a relationship to someone that is seen as having greater power or more knowledge, socially, than themselves. This image depicts the idea that the vertical relationship she was in caused her to block her feelings in order to adhere to the person who had more social power and their 'friendship'. Horizontal relationships are more egalitarian and portray social power that is equal.

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