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Why Are Peer Relationships Important for Kids?

by Guest Post
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Peer relationships contribute to healthy social-emotional development in kids. Learn more benefits of peer relationships here.

The importance of friendship has been recognized by humans for thousands of years. But what is sometimes overlooked is how friendships inform your child’s development in different ways. So, why are peer relationships important for kids?

Relationships with peers bring a wide range of lessons, from support to conflicts. For some children, navigating the social world feels like a breeze. Whereas for others, it can come with a few more challenges.

However, you should not dismiss peer relations, as they offer many benefits for your child. Read on to learn more about why peer relationships are important for kids.

Inform Early Childhood Development

Exposure to peer relations helps children’s development in different ways to parental relationships. Kids can develop their own skills and build on what they have already learned. 

Peer relations can help with the process of individuation, an essential part of child development. Studies have found that peer relationships provide unique, power-balanced, and interactive relationships. Children can choose to leave too. This is why friendships can change a lot when children are young. 

Adaptive Social Skills 

Relationships with peers provide the opportunity to learn essential social skills. They are in an environment where they can make mistakes and learn from them. Social skills that peer relationships help children develop include:

  • Cooperation
  • Conflict resolution
  • Respect 
  • Effective communication 
  • Empathy 
  • Problem-solving

These are all essential skills for children to learn at a young age. If they do not get exposure to peer relationships, they can develop maladaptive behaviours. And they can struggle to navigate the social world at older ages. 

For example, studies have found that children with positive peer relationships adapt well. In contrast, poor relationships can increase the chance of internalizing problems. These problems can include isolated or shy behaviour. 

Group Learning 

Peer relations can help support group learning too. Children can learn how to adapt to group settings and gain knowledge. For example, group learning can help:

  • Collaboration 
  • Engagement 
  • Teamwork
  • Expression 

Children can learn how to take turns, solve problems, and work together to achieve goals. These skills are invaluable to creating positive learning environments and aiding group learning.

It can also support your child’s learning throughout their academic career. They can learn how to thrive in group learning environments and reach out to peers for support. These lay the foundations for learning throughout their lives.

Emotional Regulation 

Peer relationships are also important for children to practice emotional regulation. Emotional regulation is key to children’s development. Learning skills such as:

  • Deep breathing
  • Self-reinforcement 
  • Goal setting

These skills can help children process their emotions. But they also need to practice these skills with peers.

It is only through interactions with peers that children learn how to refine their emotional regulation skills. And they can understand how to handle difficult situations. Peers also provide invaluable emotional support, introducing the value of friendship and community. 

Higher Self-Esteem 

Positive peer relationships can help boost a child’s self-esteem and build on carer relationships. Friendships remain positive throughout life. But studies have found that from four years old, friendships can impact a child’s self-esteem.

Peer relationships with children can be managed in environments that encourage healthy interactions. There is always a risk of negative peer relations. But it is only through building positive relationships, confidence, and social skills, that children can recognize this. 

Positive relationships help a child understand what makes a healthy peer relationship and how to treat others. It will help their journey into adolescence and their gradual exposure to a wider range of friendships. 

Less Loneliness 

Loneliness is something that everyone experiences at some point in their life. Peer relations can help reduce this feeling.

Understanding the function of friendship can help encourage children to seek support. This reduces the chance of isolation and other mental health difficulties. 

Promote New Interests 

Exposure to peer relations can help a child develop their own interests and learn what they like. If peers are engaging in certain activities, it can encourage children to try them too.

The opposite to this is peer pressure. However, if a child has begun to develop peer relations young, they can begin to distinguish between peer pressure and inspiration to share interests. It can be a positive way to encourage children to try something new with more confidence and support.

Learning Motivation

There are a variety of influences on a child’s learning, including peer relationships. Many children learn through the process of modelling, so a positive environment and peer relations can aid a child’s motivation. It can increase their engagement in learning and different opportunities that present themselves. 

A child without peer relationships may struggle in group learning environments. They may also feel less motivated to engage. So, peers can be paramount to encouraging positive learning behaviours in your child.

Emotional and Social Support

Peer relationships also help a child find support outside of their home. It is helpful for them to learn how to express their emotional needs with different people. The carer-child relationship is different, as carers understand their children in different ways.

However, a child also needs to learn how to seek support through other relationships. They need to learn how to communicate and navigate difficult situations, such as disagreements with friends. Peer relationships can provide a positive space for children to seek different forms of emotional and social support.

Positive Peer Relationships for Your Child

Peer relationships impact children in different ways. It is essential to let your child build relationships with peers, make mistakes, and learn from them. Only through doing this can they begin to develop friendships, trust, and a sense of self. 

Peer relationships can be developed in safe environments that support your child’s growth. Pear Tree School provides innovative educational programs to help children grow and thrive. We focus on a whole-child approach and value group learning to foster healthy peer relations.

Contact us today to learn more about our school and how we can support your child’s learning. We are happy to answer any questions.