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Developmental Trends: Peer Relationships at Different Age Levels (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Implications:

  • Supervise children’s peer relationships from a distance; intervene when needed to defuse an escalating situation.
  • Tactfully facilitate the entry of isolated and rejected children into ongoing games, cooperative learning groups, and informal lunch groups.
  • Teach rejected children how to interact pleasantly with peers.

Early Adolescence (10–14)

What You Might Observe:

  • Variety of contexts (e.g., competitive sports, extracurricular activities, parties) in which to interact with peers
  • Heightened concern about acceptance and popularity among peers
  • Fads and conformity in dress and communication styles in peer groups
  • Same-gender cliques, often restricted to members of a single ethnic group
  • Increasing intimacy, self-disclosure, and loyalty among friends
  • New interest in members of the opposite sex; for gay and lesbian youths, new dimensions of interest in the same sex
  • For some, initiation of dating, often within the context of group activities

Diversity:

  • Some young adolescents are very socially minded; others are more quiet and reserved.
  • Some young adolescents become involved in gangs and other delinquent social activities.
  • A few young adolescents are sexually active.
  • A small percentage begin to construct an identity as a gay or lesbian individual.
  • Gossiping and social exclusion may continue in some groups.

Implications:

  • Make classrooms, schools, and other settings friendly, affirming places for all adolescents. Create an atmosphere of acceptance and respect for diverse kinds of students. Do not tolerate name calling, insensitive remarks, or sexual harassment.
  • Provide appropriate places for adolescents to hang out before and after school.
  • Identify mechanisms (e.g., cooperative learning groups, public service projects) through which teenagers can fraternize productively as they work toward academic or prosocial goals.
  • On some occasions decide which youngsters will work together in groups; on other occasions let them choose their work partners.
  • Sponsor after-school activities (e.g., in sports, music, or academic interest areas).

Late Adolescence (14–18)

What You Might Observe:

  • Emerging understanding that relationships with numerous peers do not necessarily threaten close friendships
  • Increasing dependence on friends for advice and emotional support, with adults remaining important in such matters as educational choices and career goals
  • Less cliquishness toward the end of high school; greater tendency to affiliate with larger, less exclusive crowds
  • Increasing amount of time spent in mixed-gender groups
  • Many social activities unsupervised by adults
  • Emergence of committed romantic couples, especially in the last two years of high school

Diversity:

  • Some teenagers have parents who continue to monitor their whereabouts; others have little adult supervision.
  • Adolescents’ choices of friends and social groups affect their leisure activities, risk-taking behaviors, and attitudes about schoolwork. Some adolescents, known as thrill-seekers, actively seek out risky activities.
  • Teens who find themselves attracted to same-gender peers face additional challenges in constructing their adult identities, especially if others are not accepting.

Implications:

  • In literature and history, assign readings with themes of psychological interest to adolescents (e.g., loyalty among friends, self-disclosure of feelings, and vulnerability).
  • Encourage adolescents to join extracurricular activities, and in other ways make them feel an integral part of their school.
  • Sponsor dances and other supervised social events that give adolescents opportunities to socialize.
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