Kids with strong bonds to parents make better friends
Children with strong bonds to parents make better friends and can adapt in relationships, a new study has found
The study found that a kid who shares a strong bond with his parents is likely to be a positive, responsive playmate, and he will be able to adapt to a difficult peer by asserting his needs.
“Securely attached children are more responsive to suggestions or requests made by a new peer partner,” said Nancy McElwain, University of Illinois professor of human development.
“A child who has experienced a secure attachment relationship with caregivers is likely to come into a new peer relationship with positive expectations,” she said.
In the study, researchers assessed the security of child-mother attachment relationships for 114 children at 33 months, and parents reported on their child’s temperament, including anger proneness and social fearfulness.
At 39 months, children of the same gender were randomly paired with one another and observed over three laboratory visits in a one-month period.
Securely attached kids were more responsive to a new peer partner the first time they met, even if the new child was prone to anger.
Kids with secure attachments continued to respond favourably on the second and third visits when the peer partner’s anger was low – but not when the other child’s anger was high.
When a child is paired with a peer who is quick to become frustrated or angry, the positive social expectations of a child with a secure attachment are likely not met.
The securely attached child may then adapt to the situation and dampen his responsiveness to the challengingpartner, McElwain said.
“A more securely attached child was also likely to use suggestions and requests rather than commands and intrusive behaviour (such as grabbing toys away) during play with an anger-prone peer during the first two visits,” she said.
“By the final visit, a child with a secure attachment had adjusted to the controlling assertiveness of her anger-prone partner by becoming more controlling herself,” she added.
The study was published in the journal Developmental Psychology.