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Peer Relationships In Early Childhood

This post is about how preschoolers form their first friendships and peer interactions over the preschool years.

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Nonsocial Activity Children

In nonsocial activity play children are unoccupied and are not interested in playing with the other children. They like to play by themselves. They have no direct awareness or involvement with any of the other children (Berk, 372).

Next Comes Parallel Play

The next step is parallel play. In this stage children have a limited form of social participation. A child will play near other children, but they do not try to influence their behavior. Two children will be playing with the same toy and will be aware of one another, but do not play together (Berk, 372).

Associative Play

In associative play, children will begin to engage in separate activities. However, in this stage of play they will exchange toys and comment on one another's behavior (Berk, 372).

Cooperative Play

In cooperative play, children have a more advanced type of interaction. They orient toward a common goal, such as a make believe theme or acting out. Children will form into groups (Berk, 372).

First Friendships

A preschooler's first friendship serve as important contexts for social and emotional development. For a preschooler, a friend is someone who likes them and they play together. At this age, a friend is someone who wants to play and will share toys. A preschooler will give twice as much reinforcement to a friend and receive more from them, as well. Young friendships are very unique and special (Berk, 374).

Conflicts Do Arise..

Children who act as best friends do have conflicts between one another. Friends will argue more than other peers do. However, they are also more likely to work out their differences through communication and continue their friendship (Berk, 375).

Make-Believe Play

Make believe play is a common play category in preschoolers. They typically act out and have imaginary roles such as, playing house, police officer or doctor. They may also act out their favorite television or movie characters (Berk, 373).

Parents Influence Peer Relationships

Children will first acquire their skills and abilities for interacting with peers from their families. Parents are the biggest influence in their children's lives. Parents influence their children's peer sociability both directly and indirectly.. (Berk, 377).

Direct Parent Influencing

Young children depend on parents to help them establish rewarding peer associations. Direct influencing parents arrange informal peer play activities and tend to be more socially skilled. They offer guidance on how to act toward other peers. These parents teach them how to be well behaved and treat people with respect (Berk, 377).

And Indirect Parent Influencing

Parenting behaviors that are not directly aimed at promoting peer sociability do in fact influence it. Secure attachments to parents are linked to responsive, harmonious peer interactions. Parent-child play is particularly effective for promoting peer interaction skills. Parents interact on a playing level as peers do. Mothers typically play more with daughters and fathers with sons (Berk. 377).

Additional Resources..

http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-923/peer.htm

http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED435496

http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/going-to-school/social/laws-of-friendship/

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