Chapter 13 Child Psych: Peer Relationships

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Anna Freud and Sophie Dann’s Research
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Sample: group of orphans liberated from Nazi concentration camp at end of WW2 Findings: first evidence of importance of peer relationships
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Special about Peer Relationships?
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Piaget, Vygotsky and others argued that PR provide a unique context for cognitive, social and emotional development
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Friendships
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intimate, reciprocated positive relationships between people
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Early Peer interactions
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By or before 2: some have argued they can have friends Many 12-18 month: children seem to select and prefer some children over others Starting around 20 months: children increasingly initiate more interactions with some children than with others By age 2: begin to develop skills that allow greater complexity of social interaction: walking, talking By age 3/4: can make and maintain friendships By age 3-7: can have \”best friends\” that are stable over at least several months Between 6-8: define friendship primarily on basis of actual activities and view friends in terms of rewards and costs Early school-adolescence: increasingly experience and define friendships in terms of mutual likings, closeness and loyalty Adolescence: use friendship as context for self-exploration and working out personal problems
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Functions of Friendships
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Provide source of emotional support and security Important during transition periods Serves as buffer against unpleasant events Linked to decreases in adjustment problems when reciprocated
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Functions in Adolescents
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Report friends are more important confidants of support than parents BUT in highly stressful situations, support from adults may be more important for child’s well being
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Age trends of Self-Disclosure
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Friends: most important during adolescents, decreases when married Romantic Partner: most important in college and when married Parents: decreases during adolescent period and increases after marriage and in college
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Social and Cognitive Skills of Friendships
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provide context for development of social skills and knowledge needed to form + relationships with others. Promote cognitive skills and enhance performance on creative tasks Provide opportunities to get constructive feedback about behavior and ideas
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Gender Differences
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Late elementary: girls feel friendship are more intimate and provide more validation, care, help than boys. Girls more likely to co-ruminate with close friends, boys less socially anxious. Boy and girl friendships similar in terms of companionship and recreational opportunities
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Benefits of Having friends
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Preadolescence: reciprocated best friend relates not only to positive social outcomes in middle childhood, but also to self-perceived competence and adjustment in adulthood Causal relationship difficult to establish
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Possible Cost of Friendships
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Effects of having an aggressive friend on child behavior over time amy depend on the child’s baseline level of aggression Young adolescence who are somewhat aggressive seem to be most vulnerable to negative influence of aggressive friends Extent to which friends use drugs and alcohol
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Choice of Friends: preschool
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Proximity is key in selection similarity in age preference for same-sex friends emerges peers of the same race (to lesser degree)
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Choice of Friends: by age 7
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tend to like peers who arwe similar to themselves in cognitive maturity of their play and in their aggressive behavior
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Choice of Friends: 4th-8th grade
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friends are more similar than non friends in prosocial behaviors, antisocial behavior, peer acceptance and academic motivation
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Adolescence
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friends tend to have similar interests, attitudes and behavior
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Nature of Young child groups
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Preschool: clear dominance hierarchy among peer group members Middle childhood: status in peer groups involves more than dominance and children become very concerned about their peer group status
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Cliques
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friendship groups that children voluntarily form or join themselves Mid Childhood: includes 3-9 people usually same sex and race Age 11: much of children’s social interactions occur within the clique School years: children central to peer group likely to be popular, athletic, cooperative and seen as leaders and studious relative to others Age 11-18: increase in # of adol. who have ties to many cliques and increase in stability of cliques Adol.: children place high value on being in popular group and conform to group norms like dress/behavior
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Crowds
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Although older adol. seem to be less tied to cliques, they still often belong to crowds Being associated with a crowd may enhance or hurt reputation and influence how peers treat them
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Romantic relationships: Selection criteria
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young adol. tend to select partners that bring status Older adol. more likely to select partner based on compatibility and characteristics that enhance intimacy
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Negative Influences
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represented by membership in gangs
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Family Influences
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affect potential for peer-group influences to promote problem behavior adol. who don’t live with father/stepfather and have bad relationship with mother are especially vulnerable to such pressure
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Rich-get-richer hypothesis
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Social-compensation hypothesis
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Cyberspace and online communication
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online communication impairs existing friendship quality by displacing time spent on strengthening friendships OR internet-based communication are designed to facilitate existing friendship communication
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Cyberspace risks
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cyberbullying
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Cyberspace benefits
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Cyber support
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Sociometric Status
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most common method used to assess peer status is to ask children Info from these procedures is used to calculate children’s sociometric status Measures the degree to which children are liked or disliked by peers as a group
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Common sociometric categories
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Popular, rejected, neglected, average, controversial
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Popularity
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category of sociometric status that refers to children or adolescents who are viewed positively by many peers and are viewed negatively by few
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Characteristics of Popular
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Skilled at initiating interactions with peers and maintaining positive relationships Cooperative, friendly, sociable and sensitive to others Not prone to intense negative emotions and regulate well Less aggressive than average
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Rejected children
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who are liked by few peers and disliked by many peers tend to differ from more popular children in social motives and processing of info in social settings More likely to attribute hostile motives to others Have more difficulty than other in finding constructive solutions to difficult social situations
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Agressive-Rejected Children
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Especially prone to hostile and threatening physical behavior. About 50% tend to be aggressive When angry or want their way, many engage in relational aggression
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Withdrawn-Rejected Children
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socially withdrawn, wary and often timid Make up about 10-25% of rejected category not all socially withdrawn children are rejected or socially excluded
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Neglected Children
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children who are infrequently mentioned as liked or disliked Display relatively few behaviors that differ greatly from those of many other children Appear to be neglected because they aren’t noticed
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Controversial Children
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children who are liked by quite few people Tend to have characteristics of both popular and unpopular children Viewed by some peers as arrogant and snobbish
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Social Skill Deficits
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Lack of Social Knowledge Performance problems Lack of appropriate monitoring and self-evaluation
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Developmental Trends
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1. Major predictors of popularity don’t seem to change substantially with age 2. Although aggression is frequent predictor of rejection in childhood, overt aggression appears to play a less important role in peer rejection in adolescence 3. Withdrawn behavior seems to become a more important predictor of peer rejection with increasing age in childhood
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Peer Status as Predictor of Risk
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Rejected children, especially aggressive ones, are more likely than peers to have difficulties in academic domain
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Externalizing problems
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Children rejected in elementary school years, especially aggressive-rejected boys, are at risk for externalizing symptoms Symptoms appear to increase between grades 6-10
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Internalized problems
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Peer rejection may also be associated with internally expressed problems Boys and girls who were assessed as rejected in 3rd grade were at risk for developing internalizing problems years later Children in western cultures who are very withdrawn, but nonaggressive with peers, were also at risk for internalizing problems
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Relation b/w Attachment and Competence w/ Peers
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Security of the parent-child relationship is linked with quality of peer relationships
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Parent-child interactions and peer relationships
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mothers of popular children are more likely than mothers of less popular children to discuss feelings with their children and to use warm control, positive verbalizations, reasonings and explanations Fathers parenting practices in general appear to be somewhat less closely related to child’s social competence
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Gatekeeper
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Preschoolers whose parents arrange and oversee opportunities for them to interact with peers: tend to be more + and social with peers and have more companions
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Coaching
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preschool children tend to be more popular if their parents effectively coach them in how to deal with unfamiliar peers
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Modeling
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Parents also influence their children’s competence with peers by modeling socially competent and incompetent behaviors

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