#Social and #emotional #wellbeing as well as development are affected by children’s peer relationships. Psychological adjustment, engagement with the school as well as broader feelings towards peers are linked to the relationships of the children with their peers. Forming meaningful bonds with others facilitates a sense of relatedness, connectedness, and belonging.
#Relationships within the peer group, such as peer status, peer acceptance and between dyads reciprocated friendships, relationship quality, and other connections like bully-victim relationships are some of the relationships that peers are involved in. Friendships provide security, intimacy, and trust because they tend to be localized to a close dyadic relationship. Friendships also provide a sense of self-value and personal validation, serve a protective function, facilitate learning and development of new skills as well as shape the development through shared cultures. Increased risk for psychological difficulties and symptoms of depression in adulthood is found to be related to the absence of friendships in childhood. Children with reciprocated friends tend to feel better about themselves, are more sociable, prosocial, happier, and less likely to be bullied. On the other hand, peer rejection is related to subsequent poorer self-esteem.
However, benefits associated with friendship vary depending on the quality of the relationship. The quality of friendship could make a difference in how children feel about themselves, their school, as well as their peers.
Peer relations are associated with school adjustment that is important as it is linked to future academic success and a decreased likelihood of dropping out. Moreover, peer acceptance predicts school liking and engagement, whereas peer rejection is related to disengagement with school, both lower school performance and aspiration, as well as low social participation. Higher school liking and academic competence are found in children with more reciprocated friendships.
Conflict within #friendships is associated with self-reported school stress during middle childhood. On the other hand, adolescents who have the best friendships with positive characteristics report more involvement in school activities, more positive attitudes towards school, and higher school liking and academic competence.
In conclusion, children with a reciprocated best friend had higher friendship quality and peer identification than others. Where best friendship is reciprocated, the relationship with identification with peers is mediated via positive friendship quality. Therefore friendship reciprocity is particularly relevant for children’s self-worth and identification with peers.
Source: Friendships in middle childhood: Links to peer and school identification, and general self-worth.
Rachel Maunder 2019