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The importance and influence of communication in the social life of children

It has often been assumed that peers are less important in early childhood, when relationships with family members are more influential. However, recent research shows clearly that even infants spend time with peers, and that some three- and four-year-olds are already having trouble being accepted by their peers. To understand why some children find it hard to relate to peers, it is important to study the early development of peer relations. Subject The topic of early peer relations is relevant to policy-makers and service-providers in the educational, social-service and mental-health sectors.

In Western society, virtually all children are educated in the company of their peers; in some countries, such as the U. 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. 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.

The internet, cell phones, and family communication

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 the importance and influence of communication in the social life of children 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 10. 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.

The risk for children with early behavioural and emotional problems is exacerbated by the peer rejection they experience.

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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.

Peer relations

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 1999;40 6: Physical aggression and expressive vocabulary in 19-month-old twins. Developmental Psychology 2003;39 2: A precursor to serious aggression?

Child Development 2000;71 2: Developmental Psychology 2003;39 1: Peer relations in childhood. An investigation of empathy, pretend play, joint attention, and imitation. Developmental Psychology 1997;33 5: Imitation performance in toddlers with autism and those with other developmental disorders.

  • The primary exceptions are working and watching TV;
  • One notable exception is the difference in time spent having dinner with family members;
  • Problems that have been noted in mainstreamed preschool classrooms may derive from underlying deficits that could be addressed directly.

Conflict resolution patterns of preschool children with and without developmental delays in heterogeneous playgroups. Early Education and Development 1998;9 1: Relational and overt aggression in preschool.

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Developmental Psychology 1997;33 4: Gender differences in preschool aggression during free play and structured interactions: Social Development 2004;13 2: Emotional and behavioral predictors of preschool peer ratings.

Child Development 1990;61 4: Predicting stable peer rejection from kindergarten to Grade one. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 1990;19 3: Negative interactions and social competence for preschool children in two samples: Reconsidering the interpretation of aggressive behavior for young children. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 2003;49 3: Social withdrawal and shyness. Blackwell handbook of childhood social development. Cooper PJ, Eke M. Childhood shyness and maternal social phobia: British Journal of Psychiatry 1999;174: Howes C, Phillipsen L.

Social Development 1998;7 3: Child Development 2003;74 5: Childhood peer relationship problems and later risks of educational under-achievement and unemployment. A longitudinal perspective on risk and resilience. Child Development 2002;73 4: How to cite this article: Boivin M, topic ed.

Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online]. Accessed September 27, 2018.