Relationships with peers significantly contribute to the emotional development of a child. Already in preschool age, a child begins to spend more and more time with their peers – first friendships are formed, and the child learns to build friendships with people outside of their immediate family. Relationships with peers also help to develop interpersonal skills, which are so essential in adulthood.
Relationships with peers and interpersonal skills
Relationships with peers are an important element of a child’s socialization process, which allows them to learn the rules of the group and society. The ability to give way to others, share toys or sweets is, contrary to popular belief, a very important skill that has a positive impact on a child’s emotional development.
Acquiring the ability to collaborate with others largely requires contact with a group of peers. These types of rules and skills may be new to a child if they do not have siblings with whom they have already established similar behavior rules.
Relationships with peers can shape a child’s behavior through positive and negative reinforcement of specific behaviors. When a preschooler does something wrong, the group may criticize or ignore them. Positive reinforcement can come in the form of a smile, kind words, or praise for the child. The child learns to adapt to certain norms without parental control, thanks to peer group evaluations. Negative evaluations from friends can put a child in a difficult situation.
Through common thematic games, such as at home or in the hospital, a child learns to empathize with different roles. It is also important for such games to allow for various interactions with peers.
Relationships with peers and communication skills
Establishing and maintaining contact with other people is another skill that a child gradually acquires. Interpersonal skills such as negotiation, conflict resolution, and problem solving will be useful in adulthood.
Positive relationships with peers and first friendships allow a child to build relationships, learn clear and fluent communication, and express their own needs and evaluations. A child who frequently talks and plays with others is more open to expressing their feelings and has less resistance to contact with other people.
Although relationships with peers have a significant impact on a child’s emotional and social development, relationships with adults are also very important.