What Children Gain from Their Peers

Early parent-child bond lays the groundwork for later social adjustment but your child will probably learn much about the practical aspect of being sociable from other youngsters as he will from you.

Through his relationship with his peers he will find ways to get along with different types of people. Your child’s interaction with other youngsters is rooted in equality.

Peers have similar abilities and need, and they expect the same social rights and privileges. The situation is quite different between parent and child. From a parent, a child requires nurturing and discipline, security and love. Moreover they do not depend on their children as children depend on their parents.

Thus parents and children are not social equals and this curtails the child’s freedom to engage in various social behaviors. With peers, a youngster is free to test opinions, to argue or to experiment with aggressive conduct without fear. When things do not work out between them a child can simply walk away because unlike family bonds, peer relationships are voluntary.

The feedback that children give other boys and girls about their conduct is one important way they educate one another. Peers also model behavior for one another, much as a parent does for a child.

Thus, by watching and imitating another, a youngster expands his repertoire of mannerisms and actions. One most fundamental social skill children develop in their play with others is the ability to communicate. He also learns to assert himself in order to engage other youngsters in activities.

Youngsters give each other lessons in aggressive behavior which often troubles parents but in most cases they do no lasting harm and actually provide valuable information. Aggression is something every child will encounter in one form or another throughout his life.

By exploring it in early childhood with youngsters his own age, he learns how to handle his combative feeling –and how to take care of himself when others challenge him. Eventually, he also sees which aggressive acts are hurtful and distasteful and moderates his conduct accordingly.

Perhaps the most important lesson children learn from one another is how to coordinate their play and cooperate, mixing individual desire with group needs. Learning to share, to take turns and to resolve conflicts amicably is a gradual process that extends throughout the toddler, preschool years and beyond.

geeta krishnan