Monday, August 12, 2013

Friendship and Social Interaction Among Children

Many adults may not associate babies as being friendly but in fact, peer relationships in infancy are evident in the small interactions babies have with adults and one another. Below is a table of infant behavior, corresponding with an age rage, that shows peer relationships in infancy.  
As a child gets older they will develop attributes and behaviors that appear more "friendly" to us as adults. Things like playing together, missing one another, talking to each other and sharing or giving to another. Developing friendships and peer relationships are important to your child's long term development. There is a difference between peer relationships and friendship though. In peer relationships children come together for common activities but in friendships a child will choose to be with one specific friend outside of these group activities. Friendship offers countless benefits for and children and supports the development of prosocial skills such as cooperation and altruism (selflessness).  

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Children with at least one friend are:

Less likely to fall victim to aggression from peers. 
More likely to be self-confident.
More likely to be accepted by peers and experience less rejection.
More likely to perform better academically in school.

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Here are some ways to help facilitate friendship between children:

1. Provide informal peer opportunities. Planned opportunities include both structured activities and unstructured times. 
2.Pair children together for various activities.
3. Pair a shy child with a younger playmate who is less sophisticated socially. 
4. Help children learn each other's names. 
5. Point out the friendly intentions between peers as they occur. Child often overlook the friendly intentions of others because they are so focused on what they are doing. Point these good intentions out to children when you see them. 
6. Help children recognize how their behavior affects their ability to make friends. Often children are unaware of how their behavior is being interpreted by another child. Help them to understand why a child may react to them the way they do. 

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