A University of Maryland article called “Peer Pressure Starts in Childhood” caught my attention last week. A study in the May/June 2013 issue of Child Development shared that as soon as children enter elementary school and begin forming friendships their peers begin to influence their decisions. A couple of quotes that I have been pondering on include:
“… Children begin to figure out the costs and consequences of resisting peer group pressure early. By adolescence, they find it only gets more complicated.”
“Children may need help from adults when they face conflicts between loyalty to the group and fairness to outsiders. They may be struggling to ‘do the right thing’ and still stay on good terms with friends in the group, but not know how. ”
As parents it’s important for us not to take early elementary friendships lightly. Talk with children about the games they are playing at school. Ask who else participates. Find out the conversations that are occurring. Share stories about games and groups that you participated in and the feelings you had during those experiences. You may be surprised at how long your child will talk with you about their own peer group interactions and the insights they are having.
Share with us some insights you may have had after talking with your elementary aged child about their friends.