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How Kids Make Friends — and Why it Matters

September 9, 2012|Uncategorized

New research shows us more about how kids make friends.

It turns out that they do so much like adults and that making friends requires some skills that even many adults don’t have. When you were a kid, did you make friends easily? How about now? Psychologists and behavioral health specialists know that our relationships have much to do with our mental and physical health. Better relationships help us feel better and stay healthier.


What do kids look for in a friend? What draws some children together, while driving others apart? Over the past several decades—and especially recently, as concerns about bullying have roiled the country—these questions have attracted increasing attention from developmental psychologists. By sitting in on classrooms and summer camps, recording playground conversations with microphones, and even monitoring children’s text messages, researchers are beginning to arrive at intriguing conclusions about what it takes for children to become—and perhaps more importantly, remain—friends.

One of the most significant findings to come out of this growing field is that making friends isn’t the same as being popular: The ability to initiate and maintain close relationships is different from simply being liked and accepted by the group. To make friends, it turns out, children need to be able to carry out sophisticated social maneuvers, screening potential pals for certain positive qualities and making careful assessments about how much common ground they share. And in order to be a good friend—the kind that inspires loyalty and dedication—even a very young child must be not only fun to spend time with, but capable of being emotionally mature in ways that can be difficult even for grown-ups.

via How kids make friends — and why it matters – Ideas – The Boston Globe.

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