Parents are often viewed asrole models that teach children right from wrong and provide them withday-to-day happiness and enjoyment (Patron, 2007).
It is often thought that theway children are brought up by parents can have great impact in their futurelife (Patron, 2007). However, it can be argued that friends have a greaterinfluence on children’s behaviour than parents at home, whether this is inschool or in the community (Patron, 2007). This essay will look at thisargument of whether children learn most from peers and not parents as well as thisit will examine and discuss the positive and negative influences that it canhave on a child’s development.
It will begin to explain how talking with familycan help children to understand emotions and through a secure attachment figurechildren can learn the different ways of feelings. Though, it will also look atthis in detail from a different angle where care giving is a considerablefactor in understanding the risks posed to children, and use the example of’poverty’ to discuss this matter. Furthermore, the essay will also discuss howpeers could influence children’s development, for instance, socialising andinteracting with other children could offer opportunities for listening and respondingbut also developing a close relationship through trust and reliability whenneeding advice or help. In contrast, there are also negatives because ifchildren to not belong or identify with children in different racial group, itcould possibly lead to consequences such as bullying. One way in which family mayinfluence children’s development, especially children’s emotional talk, it is suggestedthat children can understand their feelings and emotions by talking with theirparents.
Moreover, security of attachment is linked with emotional openness, asit is highly possible that children with a secure attachment will be more probableto use emotional language as well as be able to confer emotionally stimulating andconflictual subjects (Shmueli-Goetz 2015). It is through a continuing,emotional connection between a child and its attachment figure (the person whocares for the child and offers safety and consolation) that an attachmentrelationship can be formed (Seibert and Kerns, 2009). Children developingsocial and emotional knowledge can in addition assist the progress of the perceptionof self, psychological capabilities and ways of feelings.
(Shmueli-Goetz 2015)uses the work of Bowlby’s (1969), where he argued that attachment security hasa great impact on self worth and self-esteem. On the other hand some childrenmay not be able to communicate openly or comfortably with their care giver. Asa result early attachment insecurity improves the possibility of “psychopathology,maladaptation and later problems” (Shmueli-Goetz 2015b). In spite of this it isworth noting that sometimes parents are not always there for children to talkto and discuss emotional feelings, for example they may go work and childrenmay go to school and if there are any issues or concerns that the child hasthen they may talk to other people such as friends or teachers about this. Risks to children occur froma variety of foundations. Risk factors are understood as influences that are probableto harm children (Montgomery and Oates, 2015). For instance, insufficient caregiving is a significant feature in recognizing the risks put forward tochildren.
Some children living in the poorest countries may suffer from rigorouspoverty; this therefore means that they are at a higher risk of undernourishment,hunger or death from sicknesses, which could have been simply avoided with thecorrect communications or medical interference (Montgomery and Oates 2015b). Incomparison to the West, the child’s parents can have a great impact on theirdevelopmental results. Babies that have been born to parents in the UK are expectedto have low birth weight and be born prematurely; these carry a larger possibilityof harmful development and particular chronic diseases later in the future too(Montgomery and Oates 2015b). As well as this there is an advanced chance todie in accidents and to have lower stages of good physical wellbeing.Furthermore, living in poverty also has bad outcomes on children’s success andwell-being. Children ages 3 or 4 from wealthier families be inclined to achievehigher on cognitive and language tests than children from poorer families.
Poorer children are also more probable to suffer from internalising difficulties,such as “depression, anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity” (Montgomery andOates 2015b).Tess Ridge has closely examined the children’s own outlook ofpoverty; she argues that children’s apprehension of poverty is of the feeling ofdissimilarity and separateness that being underprivileged and deprived carries withit (Montgomery and Oates 2015b). Ridge claims that children dislike the embarrassmentof poverty and will enthusiastically keep away from particular assistancepresented to them, as it may stigmatise them or leave them out as dissimilar(Montgomery and Oates 2015b).
For example, free school meals are a sign ofpoverty and therefore children feel they have to avoid this and subsequentlymay skip meals. This illustrates how children are open to the elements ofemotional risks. So living in poverty does not just bring physical risks but mentalrisks too (Montgomery and Oates 2015b).Conversely, it is important to note thatnot all kinds of risks are damaging and detrimental to children. It is oftencontended that being able to learn and cope with them is an element of thedevelopmental process. For instance, Donald Winnocott (1964) theory of’good-enough parenting’, explains that there is enough verification that when achild deals and experiences easy-going stages of stress, it inoculates inopposition to the results of stress in the future (Montgomery and Oates 2015c).It can be claimed that children who have never experienced hardship ordifficulty are deprived in adulthood because they have not created and build managingmethods and would not know how to act in response suitably (Montgomery andOates 2015c).
Middle childhood is a timewhere children develop strong bonds with other individuals, and peerrelationships are considered as important and significant (Shmueli-Goetz, 2015c).Children begin to endeavour for independence and therefore their enthusiasm to discoverthe world away from attachment figures expand (Shmueli-Goetz, 2015c). This isfacilitated by an awareness of safety and knowledge that a secure base can beestablished with attachment figures. There are some studies that claim childrenwho are securely attached to their mothers are least expected to be discarded bytheir friends (Shmueli-Goetz, 2015c). Ina meta-analytic study, it was revealed that children that were viewed as securedisplayed advanced stages of social competence with peers, where they felt theywere accepted by them, but this was not the same case for children who wereviewed as insecure (Shmueli-Goetz, 2015c). However there are other factors thatinfluence the relationship between attachment and peer competence this incorporatedof, “socio-economic status, risk status and child gender” (Shmueli-Goetz, 2015c).
This has clearly shown that the features of attachment relationships have broadimplications for the quality of children relationships with friends (Shmueli-Goetz,2015c). Moreover, linking this to relative significance of peers in influencingchild development in middle childhood, Dr Yvonne Skipper has claimed thatstudies have revealed that approximately 10% of children struggle socially (TheOpen University, 2015). This is considered as an important matter becausechildren who don’t socialise or interact with friends will have no chance to rehearseskills like listening, reacting and are less probable to have friends later onin life. This can also have an impact on their cognitive development as theymay find it difficult to listen to instructions or respond to the teachers (TheOpen University, 2015).
On the other hand it can be argued that children whodon’t interact and socialise with other children may be from another countryand therefore don’t speak English and so are confused and have different understandingsof the values and behaviours of interacting with peers. This can lead to lowlevels of self esteem and self- confidence as well as feelings of lonelinessand isolation. In contrast, children who are fluent in English will understandthe different values and manners of interacting, they will be more successfulin making friends but more importantly will develop social skills, haveexcellent communication skills and have a well-built awareness of their ownagency. In childhood peerrelationships are considered as an important and significant aspect ofchildren’s lives. Children are often making choices about social exclusion andinclusion. There are many consequences of social exclusion from peer groups inlater life, such as “depression, psychological maladjustment, poor academicachievement, violence and school dropout”. Research shows that children’s groupidentities: intra-group and inter-group relations and peer relationships areimpacted by children’s own understanding of group identity or social self.
Thisincludes recognition of their sex, cultural, ethnic or national group (Rutlandet al., 2012). Moreover, the development of national identity is influenced bymany factors such as media, schooling, and the family and not just cognitivedevelopmental factors and social identity processes (Gallagher, 2015). A single framework created by Barrett andOppenheimer (2011) which incorporates the influences that impact children’sintergroup attitudes (Gallagher,2015).
It is thought that through dialogue and behaviour of parents, canimpact the development of their children’s view directly and indirectly (Gallagher, 2015). For example, theyhave power of where the family lives, contact with friends, schools andinteraction with individuals from various groups and mass media; this is allconsidered as a basis of information for the child (Gallagher, 2015). Studies have illustrated that children tend toprefer their own national group over all others (Gallagher, 2015b). Nevertheless in a report by Leman et al.
(2013),they asked 258 British children and British South Asian to pick potentialfriends from their ethnic in-group or out-group (Gallagher, 2015b). White children tended to choose friends fromtheir ethnic in-group, whereas Asian children, aged 5 often selected an out-groupfriend (Gallagher, 2015b). Additionally,the social identity theory explains that in order for children to accomplishand uphold a positive identity they need to obtain membership and recognizewith them (Duffy and Nesdale, 2008).
It was claimed that children would categorisethemselves and other individuals based on race; this can direct them to stereotypeand hold negative feelings regarding the out-group (Duffy and Nesdale, 2008). Itwas predicted that if children are in a diverse racial group instead of theirown racial group, then it was highly possible that they will get bullied (Duffyand Nesdale, 2008). This shows that friends are not just a positive influencein childhood development but could also be a negative influence because theyare more likely to experience feelings of low self- concepts and isolation ifthey do get bullied or picked on, but to add to this they will feel they don’tbelong in a ‘particular’ group and feel excluded and unwelcome. This can leadto damaging consequences for example, their academic achievement levels will below because they won’t concentrate in lessons or worry about what others arethinking of them. They will also constantly be scared and worried so would wantto avoid their ‘bullies’, this may mean that they won’t socially interact withother peers and stay indoors.
To summarise the claims thatare made in the (Patron, 2007) that children learn most from peers and notparents are to some extent a reasonable interpretation of the evidence providedabove, but in some areas this is considered weak. A claim made by a leadingpsychologist that parents play a vital role in teaching children from right towrong is to some degree correct; (Patron, 2007) however this depends on thefamily’s life-style and socio-economic status. Each families situation isdifferent as compared above some are wealthier whereas some are in a poorerstate, this may mean that the child may suffer, for example, one importantaspect of what is ‘right’ is having an education, poorer children may not haveaccess to resources such as books, computers, internet and stationary in orderto study, but others from a more privileged family will be advantageous thanthem, and will be likely to do well in school and achieve and be successful intheir career. As well as this some children could turn to peers as (The OpenUniversity, 2015) comments that children see their friends as trustworthy,reliable and consistent because they provide advice and are always there forthem. Accordingly children as Dr Yvonne Skipper suggests are able to offeropportunities to practice listening and responding and develop their socialskills with each other (The Open University, 2015). Moving on to the notionthat what happens to children outside the home has a long term effect on theway they turn out. For instance, if children are unable to achieve and maintaina positive social identify because they get bullied due of their race; thiscould lead to violence and anger because of the way they were treated inschool; it could also have detrimental effects on their self-confidence andself-esteem. This could still be the same case if children came from a lovingand affectionate family, but the effects of bullying could still impact andaffect them badly.
Nonetheless, there are some studies that show the connectionbetween the importance of how both family and friends influence children’sdevelopment, (Shmueli-Goetz, 2015c) has used other studies to demonstrate thatchildren who had a secure attachment with their attachment figures had higherlevels of social competence with peers. This has clearly shown that the kind ofattachment relationships that children have with their care giver hasinsinuation for the quality of children’s relationships with peers (Shmueli-Goetz,2015c).To conclude, both peers andfamily significantly influence child development in middle childhood.
As the essay has illustrated that parents asan attachment figure can allow children to talk openly with them aboutemotional feelings and help them to grow and progress on their social andemotional understanding (Shmueli-Goetz, 2015). It can also establish theprogression of self, psychological capabilities and ways of feelings. However,there are some negative influences from this such as, how care giving is aconsiderable aspect in understanding the risks put forward to children. Forinstance, poverty is considered as something children want to avoid being partof as it involves stigmatisation and being different to other people.
It canalso have more internalising issues like depression and aggression. Comparingthis to how friends influence child development in middle childhood, as DrYvonne Skippers suggest that children feel that they could identify withfriends and have sense of belonging in their group. This as result createsfeelings of trust and reliability in addition to a person who they always turnto when they need help. In contrast there are also some negative influences onchild development because some people from different outer racial groups maystruggle to be accepted and identify with other people from different racialgroups because of stereotyping and negative attitudes towards the out-group.This could accordingly lead to bullying because they do not fit in or have nosense of belonging.
What is more as (Rutland et al., 2012) has shown that beingexcluded from peer groups can have effects such as depression and violence.