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Importance of Peers

Peer relationships become significant sources of companionship, support, advice and information from childhood to adolescence. Beneficial effects on cognitive, social & academic adjustment by peers can be short and long term. Positive outcomes associated with supportive friendships is feeling connected with others, feeling good about oneself, contributing to successes in subsequent romantic relationships and being positive in outlook. Peers can offer a positive context to young people who show caring friendships and are members of supportive peer groups.

Young people's friendship develops into more intimate, meaningful relationships based on loyalty, commitment, trust, and reciprocity which is usually based on common interests and activities initially. Adolescents spend most of their time with friends, especially best friends whom they mostly meet daily and spend several hours together. They generally have one - two "best" friends, and several "close" friends, with whom they are in contact regularly.


Peers provide social possibilities and developmental opportunities to young people that are not available through relationships with adults.

Young people tend to engage in both negative and positive behaviours with their friends and peer groups. Having friends is essential to healthy social and psychological development, but the types of activities they engage in, and the quality of relationship is also important to consider when examining the health and well-being of young people.

On the other hand, not having friends, on whom they can rely to talk about things that bother them, can have negative mental health outcomes, including emotional and behavioural adjustment difficulties. Further, although having friends can have positive health outcomes, the quality of the friendships, and the activities that are engaged in, can lead to negative behavioural and emotional outcomes.

For kids, being accepted by peers is a matter of greatest importance. Ask the children in any classroom and they can tell you ‘Who is popular’ and ‘Who is weird’. For kids with negative reputations, school is often a lonely and demoralizing place.

It’s no wonder, then, that school-age children often seem to go to great lengths to fit in, even if it means breaking some family rules.

Success fitting in and getting along is important for kids and for the adults they grow up to be. The world has now turned into a global village and your children will be travelling the world and interacting with personalities of all sorts. Now perhaps more than ever children need to learn to interact in groups, accept different personalities and cooperate with people who might not always agree.

This doesn’t mean that you ought to force your child to conform, but neither should you insist that your child always stand apart from the herd. What you can do as a parent, is look for groups (that is, terms or clubs) that share your core values, so that the group reinforces the values you’ve taught your child.

The quality of the adult leadership is important. If you can take on that leadership role yourself – coaching a school team, for instance – you will have an excellent opportunity to affect not only your own child, but many others as well.

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