The Socialization of School Age Children
Peer Rejection and Acceptance
One of the most heartbreaking experiences for parents of school age children is the realization that a child may not be "fitting in" at school. We just can't understand why anyone would dislike our little angels and our responses fluctuate from total disbelief and sadness to anger. Still resting comfortably in our belief that there must be something wrong with those "other" children, our frustrations and concerns usually culminate in a request for supervisory intervention in school settings.
Unfortunately, we are reluctant to accept or even explore the possibility that a child's isolation may be due in part to a lack of social skills. A toddler's insistence upon winning every game, or parental submission when tantrums are thrown can lead to the emergence of behavioral patterns that are found unacceptable in social settings at school.
The information and links on this page have been chosen to give parents some insight into the dynamics of peer relationships. Explore the provided links to examine your child's social skills and behaviors. Understanding your child's strengths and weaknesses in social interaction and behavior may be the key to building healthy and enjoyable relationships with their peers.
PSPN Must See Site: The information and charts listed below are only excerpts from these articles. We strongly encourage you visit this site for a thorough review of these concepts.
National Network for Childcare:
CHILDREN WITHOUT FRIENDS
PART 1: THEIR PROBLEMS Peer rejection in childhood often brings with it serious emotional difficulties. Rejected children are frequently discontent with themselves and with their relationships with other children. Many of these children experience strong feelings of loneliness and social dissatisfaction. Rejected children also report lower self-esteem and may be more depressed than other children. Peer rejection is also predictive of later life problems, such as dropping out of school, juvenile delinquency, and mental health problems.
PART 2: THE REASONS FOR PEER REJECTION
When children are deciding whether to be friends with someone, they seem to ask themselves certain "core questions."
- Is this child fun to be with?
- Is this child trustworthy?
- Do we influence each other in ways I like?
- Does this child help me achieve my goals?
- Does this child make me feel good about myself?
- Is this child similar to me?
Of course, children rarely think about these questions consciously or in these exact words. But research indicates that the answers to these questions affect whether children will accept or reject a child.
Table 1: CHARACTERISTICS ASSOCIATED WITH PEER ACCEPTANCE AND PEER REJECTION, GROUPED ACCORDING TO SIX CORE QUESTIONS
|IS THIS CHILD FUN TO BE WITH?
|- sense of humor
- participatory/readily involved
- low cognitive skills
|IS THIS CHILD TRUSTWORTHY?
- betrays confidences
|DO WE INFLUENCE EACH OTHER IN WAYS I LIKE?
|DOES THIS CHILD FACILITATE AND NOT UNDERMINE MY GOALS?
DOES THIS CHILD MAKE ME FEEL GOOD ABOUT MYSELF?
- likes me
- dislikes me
|IS THIS CHILD SIMILAR TO ME?
|- common values and interests
- respect for peer conventions
- same gender, race, age
|- different values and interests
- nonconformity to peer conventions
- superior manner
PART 3: LEARNING ABOUT A CHILD'S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
FIGURE 1: SOME OF THE SOCIAL TASKS INVOLVED IN PEER RELATIONSHIPS
Joining a group or activity
Coping with success
Dealing with conflict
Coping with failure
Making a friend
Sticking up for a friend
Coping with rejection
Responding to requests
Maintaining a conversation
Coping with teasing
Being supportive of others
PART 4: IMPROVING SOCIAL SKILLS - (Social Skills Coaching)
- Take turns
- Share the game or materials
- Make a suggestion if there is a problem with a game
- Give an alternative if there is a disagreement about the rules
- Get involved
- Get started
- Pay attention to the game or activity
- Talk with the other person
- Say things about the game or yourself
- Ask a question about the game or other person
- Listen when the other person talks
- Look at the other person to see how he or she is doing
VALIDATION - SUPPORT (Friendly-Fun-and-Nice)
- give some attention to the other person
- Say something nice when the other person does well
- Give a smile sometimes
- Offer some help or suggestions
BEING A GOOD SPORT WHEN LOSING
- Congratulate the winner
- Compliment the other player's skills
- Shake hands and say, "It was a good game."
- Say something nice about the game
- Say something funny about yourself
BEING A GOOD TEAM MEMBER
- Be friendly-fun-and-nice with teammates (see earlier concept)
- Cheer for everyone on your team
- Keep playing for the whole game
- Pay attention to how the team is doing
KEEPING YOUR COOL
- Make a joke
- Keep your voice calm and quiet
- Leave quietly
"Excerpts reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Eller, C. L. (Ed.). (1996). Storrs, CT: National Network for Child Care at the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System."
"Excerpts reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Williams, G. A. & Asher, S. R. (1993). Children without friends, Part 3: Learning about a child's strengths and weaknesses. In Todd, C.M. (Ed.), *Day care center connections*, 3(2), pp. 3-4. Urbana-