Peer Relationships in Preschool




Trevino Gonzalez, Amy Alejandra

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Malinda Colwell and Eric Lindsey analyzed the relationship between preschool children’s play forms with same or other-sex peers and their social competence. Over the course of 2 years, behavior, peer interactions, and play forms were all accounted for in short periods and eventually coded for by qualified research assistants. Peer competence and peer acceptance ratings were obtained from teachers and children respectively. The study found multiple instances of in-group bias. All children who participate in same-sex pretend play, girls that participated in same-sex exercise play, and boys who participated in same-sex rough-and-tumble play were better liked by their peers and considered socially competent by their teachers. Conversely, boys engaged in rough-and-tumble play with peers of other-sex, were less liked by their peers. Children's gender and the gender of their peers are important factors related to play forms and children’s socialization. This study as well as other studies conducted on preschool-aged children are consistently showing gender segregated peer interactions. Unfortunately, violations to prominent and subconscious gender boundaries may result in young children being disliked by their peers and subsequent limited social opportunities. The relationships and interactions seen at these ages are fundamental for their development. This study may be the first of many to provide valuable information about the importance of promoting early positive and varied social interactions.

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