Friendship and Peer Relations


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Peer Relations


Children who are unable to form close or satisfying relationships with peers should be of concern to parents and teachers alike. For one thing, these children miss out on opportunities to learn social skills that will be important throughout their lives. Especially critical are the skills needed to initiate and maintain social relationships and to resolve social conflicts, including communication, compromise, and tact. Children who lack ongoing peer involvements also may miss opportunities to build a sense of social self-confidence.


As adults become aware of children with significant peer relationship problems, their concern should focus on why such problems are occurring. Fortunately, recent research has expanded insight into the following factors that contribute to children’s peer relationship problems. 

Some children behave in an aggressive or disruptive manner and, hence, are rejected by peers. Other children withdraw from peer interactions and, in this way, limit their ability to gain acceptance and friendship.  Each type of ineffective social behavioral pattern can stem from different root causes. One possible cause is a lack of knowledge about effective interaction strategies. Another potential cause relates to the children’s emotional states.

Children who are anxious or fearful about peer relations are unlikely to behave in an effective manner. Academic problems also can contribute to ineffective social behavior. Children who cannot engage themselves with classroom work assignments often disrupt and irritate their peers.


Similarity fosters social acceptance. Conversely, children tend to encounter social rejection when they are perceived to be dissimilar from their peers. This may occur when children are of a different ethnic group or sex, are physically unattractive or handicapped, or are newcomers to their classrooms. 

Family Problems

Family problems can have damaging effects on children’s peer relations. For example, children of divorcing parents may act out feelings of anger at school, eliciting rejection from peers in the process. Children with family problems, such as parental alcoholism, may be reluctant to bring friends home, avoiding close friendships as a result. 


Even if children overcome the circumstances that originally led them to experience peer problems, a reputation as a social outcast is extremely difficult to change.


Children require help from adults if they are to overcome serious peer relationship problems. The most successful helping strategies are matched to the specific needs of the children involved.

Social Skills Training
Children whose behavior leads to social rejection often need to learn new interpersonal skills. In such cases, specific instruction on ways to make peer interactions mutually satisfying and productive can be effective in improving the children’s peer relations. 

Intervention for Related Problems

When peer problems co-occur with serious academic problems, children may need intensive academic intervention if they are to become accepted members of their classroom groups. Similarly, children should be given school support for dealing with family problems, when possible, to minimize potential adverse effects on the children’s peer relations.

Non-threatening Social Experiences

Large groups can be threatening to children who lack self-confidence. Shy children may therefore benefit from opportunities to interact with peers in small groups. Parents can encourage shy children to invite classmates over one at a time for special activities. Or shy children can be encouraged to develop outside interests, like music or art, which will provide a natural basis for interacting with other children. Both of these approaches can boost shy children’s self-confidence and may help them start friendships in the process. 

Cooperative Classroom Projects

Cooperative group projects can foster peer acceptance of children who are trying to improve their social reputations, including children who are seen as different by their classmates. Under this scheme, teachers assign interesting tasks to small work groups. The group members must work cooperatively to achieve the tasks. In so doing, they must interact with peers they would typically avoid and often discover new bases for liking them








1) In your own words (and opinion), why do you think peer relations are important?


2) Have you (or someone you’re close to) ever experienced trouble making friends or relating to your peers? Describe this experience. Did this situation have a lasting impact on you? How did you cope with the situation?


3) Have you ever disliked or prejudged someone, and then worked with that person in a group (a sport or group project are two examples) and realized you were wrong about him or her? What, do you think, caused your initial reaction?


4) What do you perceive to be most difficult in peer relations between young people? Now, think for a second about your own position in the social world. How did your unique perspective influence your answer?


5) Use this space to submit your first essay. Note that you must list two websites in addition to those we provided. Include brief summaries of the information housed at each. State the facts, then present your opinion about how we might resolve the problem discussed. Check your spelling and grammar and support your arguments with good, sound logic.


6) Use this space to submit your second essay. The same criteria apply to this one as to the first.


7) Do you fit into one of those catagories? If not, what do you feel your family is like?


8) Sociologists define family this way: family A relationship in which people live together with commitment, form an economic unit and care for any young, and consider their identity to be significantly attached to the group. family of orientation The family into which a person is born and in which early socialization usually takes place. family of procreation The family a person forms by having or adopting children. What do the sociological definitons of family and your understanding of the word have in common? How are they different? &nbs


9) Now we’d like to do something a little different. Over the next two days, you’re going to observe your own family schematics in action. Keep a journal recording: How many arguments occur Their causes (money? schoolwork? chores?) Their resolutions How many times terms of affection are exchanged How often you eat with your family Who prepared the food and who cleaned up What’s discussed at the table How often you talk to or see extended family members Anything else that you think sheds some light on how your family works! Once you’ve recorded all your data, write a summary of how these everyday interactions reflect your family’s patterns. What might these observations indicate? Has studying your family provided you with any new insights? Your summary should be no less than 250 words long. Include it and your log in the space below. If you find that you wrote

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