Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - March 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 7 of 45

8 Hudson Valley Parent n December 2013 Perspective taking is more dominant in girls than boys at this stage and throughout subse- quent stages of develop- ment. During the preado- lescent (tween) stage of development (ages 9-12), children have friendships based not only on mutual interest and geographical proximity, but also on a pattern of "give and take," and friends are seen as people who help and sup- port each other. Camaraderie, group and team membership take on more impor- tance as children begin dissolving their own self-importance to the needs of the group. Trust, a bench- mark of mature friendships, ap- pears for the first time. In the latter part of this stage, rifts between friends are not as easily "patched up" as in early childhood. It's at this time children are ostracized for behavior that violates social norms repeatedly. This stage is the template for adolescence, where peer-acceptance becomes paramount and social ostracism creates a multitude of problems. Quality and influence Friendships contribute significant- ly to the development of social skills, such as being sensitive to another's viewpoints, learning the rules of conversation, and age-appropriate behaviors. More than half the chil- dren referred for emotional behavior- al problems have no friends or find difficulty interacting with peers. Friends also have a powerful in- fluence on a child's positive and neg- ative school performance and may I t's a cold world out there, but friends can make it a warm- er place. They endure time and distance; provide comfort, intimacy, and support. The development and maintenance of friend- ships in childhood forms a pattern for creating friendships in later life. Many theorists view the development of friend- ships similarly to other areas of human development, as going through predictable, progres- sive and hierarchical stages. I'm sure dinnertime conversa- tions with your children revolve not only around what they are learn- ing in school, but involve children whose names you haven't heard be- fore. Some of the friendships your child is making are transitory while others will last for years. Playmates Below the age of 7, friendships are based on physical (same age or gender) or geographical consid- erations (next-door neighbor) and are rather self-centered. A friend is a playmate who lives nearby and has "neat" toys, and likes the same games. There is little or no under- standing of the other person's per- spective or feelings, or personality traits other than the avoidance of a playmate because "they are mean." Give and take During the next stage of develop- ment (ages 7-9), the idea of reci- procity and awareness of the other child's feelings begins. "Perspective taking," or the recognition of how another child might feel given our actions, begins during this stage. also help to encourage or discourage deviant behaviors. Compared to chil- dren who lack friends, children with "good" friends have higher self-es- teem, act more socially, can cope with life stresses and transitions, and are also less victimized by peers. Interestingly, children with friends of both sexes, as a group, are better adjusted and have greater social skills than children who have only same sex friendships. Alone time Although friendships follow a somewhat predictable develop- mental sequence, not all children progress at the same rate. Delays in this area are not necessarily a cause for concern. Look for signs: Is your child frequently expressing feelings of sadness and loneliness? Additionally, as important as friendships are, like their adult coun- terparts, children may greatly enjoy and choose solitary activities; some children need or desire more alone time than do others. Friendships ground us through- out life, and lifelong friendships help us revisit and examine the tapestry of our lives. How many of us still have friends from when we were very young children? There is something so special about them. They provide us a feeling of security and an understanding of ourselves. Paul Schwartz, PhD., is a profes- sor of psychology and education at Mount Saint Mary College. Children with 'good' friends have higher self-esteem. PAUL SCHWARTZ Child Behavior The importance of friendship

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Hudson Valley Parent - HVP - March 2014