Promoting Healthy Peer Relationships During Middle Childhood
Peer groups appear naturally in middle childhood and some behavior expressed by peers can be detrimental to a child’s growth. As a way to correct the problems, there should be certain elements of control imposed by guardians, parents, and professionals who are studying and taking care of children. In most circumstances, peer groups help children to learn vocabulary, social norms, and gender identities. They can be associated with children of the same gender and learn about their gender roles such as those observed by many child development theories. An example is the case of preoperational thinking of a child as well at the states of concrete operational thinking. Here, a child identifies that genders are different, then consistently picks one gender and insists on being that gender. The child also grows with preferences for particular activities of the gender. In such a case, the peer group of the child allows the child to exercise these identities and associate or cope with popularity.
However, there are inherent problems with peer groups in early childhood development. When a child is famous, he or she gets many mentions of good deeds and few mentions of bad deeds, especially from his or her peers. These mentions assist the child in developing an identity and coming up with skills. Unpopularity affects the child’s social development, as the child ends up being unassertive and crippled in ordinary development. Without friendship, a child can fail to adapt to social situations in a normal way, especially when the child comes from a home that has an authoritarian parent.
Another unfortunate effect of peers is bullying and aggression. This can happen in a proactive or reactive way, and the important thing for guardians is to interpret them well. Appropriate interpretation will ensure that practical solutions are used. Children should be regulated in their exposure to electronic media containing violence. Given that children as still developing associations with their environment and developing various social and mental capacities, exposing them to media influences their thinking and can interfere with their ability to make appropriate friendships. Parents should monitor children and their peer interactions to ensure that they are not succumbing to effects that can cause them to have depression or school phobia. The appropriate interpretations can be family therapy, behavior therapy, art therapy, play therapy, drug therapy.