Friday, April 22, 2005

Friendships and Peer Groups

By Mylea

Friendship, exactly how early do our little ones begin to develop peer relationships?Usually by the age of three or four children start to join other children in play activities that require interacting with one another. However, it has been observed in childcare centers that babies as young as 8 or 9 months old has the ability to establish preferences in peers. This is not to say that friendships are started at this age, but they tend to attach themselves to certain ones of their group more often in play. They lack the ability to form an emotional bond with another child at this point in their life.

In preschool one child may adopt another child as their "best friend", but the relationship is usually one sided. In this age group, the knowledge needed to understand a mutual relationship is not there. However, as they become older around six, they start to spend more and more time with other children and close friendships are formed. The reason being is they are more able to exchange information with each other, establish common ground, even to resolve conflicts, which are important aspects in forming a relationship.

Between the ages of 7 - 9, close relationships are formed with peers of the same sex. Then about in the eight grade, close friendships of the opposite sex start to be formed.
It is also about this time peer group's surface. These groups can be as diverse as a group of teens who feel that getting drunk and smoking is cool to a group of boy scouts. In order to be in a peer group you must agree with the values and goals established therein. This could be for good or bad intentions.

Children who are able to engage in conversation with a new group they just met, their popularity is usually determined by that meeting. Those that are able to make others around them laugh, is often viewed as fun to be around, therefore, accepted. Once accepted by a group, the child is unlikely to be rejected later. Children who never find peer acceptance face loneliness as a child, which continues into his/her adulthood.

It has been observed that children prefer to be with members of their own race and sex because of their similarities. This preference is mostly seen from kindergarten through the sixth grade. Those who are physically attractive are more likely to be accepted into groups of like kind. The child's name is also an important factor in acceptance, so please be careful and choose your child's name wisely.

Unfortunately, peers seem to have the most influences over our children. From shaping their sexual attitudes to directing behaviors, that we see exhibited in them. However, parents who are warm and caring are more likely to have the greater influence on their child. Therefore, friendships play an important role in our children's lives and often times determines their successes or failures. To insure our children make wise decisions in their choice of friends as parents we have to work on not being so over bearing and controlling. All we can do is teach them what we expect of them and encourage them in a positive way and hope that their choice of friends will be those with the same standards and values.

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