Friendship and Its Important Roles in Sharpening Children’s and Adolescents’ Well Being and Development Objectives:
1. What are the growing importance of friends in governing our social behavior and our social selves? 2. What is the social status or levels of acceptance of the children and adolescent within the peer group? 3. How does one acquire the ability of “selling” oneself to others and make friends?
The self – who we are and who we think we are – plainly influences social interactions. But the reverse is also true, and there is no question that the social world influences – and some would say, defines – who we think we are. Each of us is influenced by how others treat us and how they respond to our actions. Their behavior causes us to adjust our social role, and, in many cases, to reshape how we think about ourselves. Indeed, some authors cast this more strongly, suggesting that what each of us considers to be “me” is in large part derived from what others have taught us and how they have reacted to us. The self that each of us knows, in other words, is what William Cooley, many years ago, called a “looking glass self”, defined largely through what we have learned in our interaction with others. (Gleitman, Fridlund, & Reisberg, 2004, PSYCHOLOGY, p.170)
1. What are the growing importance of friends in governing our social behavior and our social selves? The world of peers is one of varying acquaintances; children interact with some children they barely know, and with others they know well, for hours every day. It is to the latter type – friends – that we now turn. Friendships serve six functions: (John W. Santrock, 2004, CHILD DEVELOPMENT (Tenth Edition) p.522) 1. Companionship. Friendship provides children with a familiar partner, someone who is willing to spend time with them and join in collaborative activities. 2. Stimulation. Friendship provides children with interesting information, excitement, and amusement. 3. Physical support. Friendship provides resources and assistance 4. Ego support. Friendship provides the expectation of support, encouragement, and feedback that helps children to maintain an impression of themselves as competent, attractive, and worldwide individuals. 5. Social comparison. Friendship provides information about where children stand vis-à-vis others and whether children are doing okay. 6. Intimacy/affection. Friendship provides children with a warm, close, trusting relationship with another individual, a relationship that involves self-disclosure.
Harry Stack Sullivan contended that friends also play important roles in shaping children’s and adolescents’ well being and development. In terms of well-being he argued that all people have a number of basic social needs, including the need for tenderness (secure attachment), playful companionship, social acceptance, intimacy, and sexual relations. (John W. Santrock, 2004, CHILD DEVELOPMENT (Tenth Edition) p.523) Friendships are important to children for several reasons (Hartup,1989, 1992). During the elementary school years, friends are companions to have fun and do things with. They also serve as important emotional resources b y providing children with a sense of security in new situations and when family or other problems arise. Friends are also cognitive resources when they teach or model specific intellectual skills, and how to resolve conflicts successfully are also learned within the context of friendships.(p.84) Adolescents say they depend more on friends than on parents to satisfy their needs for companionship, reassurance of worth, and intimacy (Furman & Buhrmester,1992). In another study, friendship in early adolescence was a significant predictor of self worth in early childhood (Bagwell, Newcomb, & Bukowski 1994). In addition to the role they play in socialization of social competence, friendship relationships are often important sources of support (Berndt, 1999). Friends...
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