Peer relationships are influenced by the early attachment relationships experienced by the child. Suppose the child’s attachment to their parent involves highly related to qualities of friendship outstanding at a particular age. In that case, the child’s attachment security is associated with coordinated and positive interactions with friends in early childhood. Lack of support, parental engagement, and maltreatment constitutes the child’s insecure attachment, making the child more often rejected and aggressive, less prosocial, and less competent. Also, the development of friendship relationships differs according to developmental processes. In childhood, friendships are created because children like to engage in the same kind of activities. Contrastingly, friendship development is due to the similarity and compatibility of personalities and interests at school age. Additionally, teens cultivate friendships revolving around critical personal values, which also define dating and relationships later in life. Secure attachment promotes healthy friendships for preadolescents and children because it builds a bridge between infant and peer relationships in early adolescence. This paper will discuss the influences of secure attachments on early childhood relationships and peer relationships in early adolescence. It will also analyze friendships in middle childhood and adolescence and the importance of adults in the child’s socialization.
Children with secure attachments in childhood become more competent socially and emotionally; they also develop cognitive functioning and good mental and physical health. These children are less disruptive, less aggressive, and more empathetic during later stages (Kerns, 1994). This bridges their relationships with caregivers and peers in early adolescents. Secure attachments enable children to develop good relationships with their caregivers because they are harmonious and less aggressive. These children can create a close relationship with caregivers due to their social cognitive skills like emotional understanding and relationship representation. Children with secure attachment also tend to form intimate and close relationships with peers due to greater problem-solving skills than children with insecure attachment. They are also kinder in acknowledging their peers’ motivation in uncertain situations. Therefore, secure attachments enable a child to develop a good relationship with their caregivers, shaping the good peer relationships the child will develop in early adolescence. For example, my neighbor’s child, Tom, was raised in a complete and positive family and was taken to a good school. The entire environment where he was raised was friendly. Before joining the school, he was introduced to a caregiver who cared for him whenever his parents were at work. Tom was attached to the caregiver after some time and was very respectful, and because he spent more time with his caregiver than his parents, Tom grew strongly connected to the caregiver and felt safer and freer with her. As he joined the school, tom easily formed friendships and had a better understanding of emotions than some of the children of his age.
The friendships that occur in middle childhood and adolescence are developmentally different. In middle childhood, the children focus on norms shared and personal preferences when engaging with friends (Maunder & Monks, 2019). They spend much time playing games that structure and animated conversation. Also, during middle childhood, segregation of gender in friendships is observed where peers actively discourage cross-gender friendships. In contrast to middle childhood, friendships developed in adolescence depend on the honest exchanges between individuals involving affection and self-disclosure (Woolfolk & Perry, 2013). Middle childhood friendship involves sharing entertainment and enjoyment, while adolescent friendship provides individuals with the means to explore self-understanding and identity. According to my observation, children from lower grades tend to group themselves during breaks in gender. Girls will play in different groups and do not mix mostly with boys. Those who are in adolescence interact in pairs, and the relationship is based on loyalty, mutual understanding, and commitment.
Adults are essential in the socialization of children and the development of friendships and peer groups. Being the primary caregivers, parents can influence their children from a very young age. Parents help their children form and maintain friendships that are rewarding. Even without intentions, parents find themselves influencing the friendships of their children through the setting they select to reside in and the responses they portray to the child’s social behavior (Rubin & Sloman, 1984). For example, my mother wishes my younger brother Myles would create closer friendships. She realizes that Myles has played with Sally in school, and she calls her mother to invite over Sally so that they can get to know each other better. Parents also influence the socialization of their children and peer groups and friendship development through how they relate with others. Teachers are also important in children’s socialization and peer group and friendship development in that their behavior influences the attitudes of the children. They have a role in guiding children with compassion and teaching them throughout the play. They also help them establish a trusting relationship by expressing respect, affection, and warmth.
In conclusion, children with secure attachments in childhood become more competent socially and emotionally. They also develop cognitive functioning and good mental and physical health. The friendships that occur in middle childhood and adolescence are developmentally different. Middle childhood friendship involves sharing entertainment and enjoyment, while adolescent friendship provides individuals with the means to explore self-understanding and identity. Adults are essential in the socialization of children and the development of friendships and peer groups. Being the primary caregivers, parents can influence their children from a very young age. Teachers also help children establish a trusting relationship by expressing respect, affection, and warmth.
Kerns, K. A. (1994). A longitudinal examination of links between mother-child attachment and children’s friendships in early childhood. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 11(3), 379-381. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0265407594113004
Maunder, R., & Monks, C. P. (2019). Friendships in middle childhood: Links to peer and school identification, and general self‐worth. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 37(2), 211-229. https://bpspsychub.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bjdp.12268
Rubin Z., Sloman J. (1984) How Parents Influence Their Children’s Friendships. In: Lewis M. (eds) Beyond The Dyad. The genesis of Behavior, vol 4. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4757-9415-1_10
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