Peers play important roles in children’s lives at much earlier points in development than we might have thought. Experiences in the first two or three years of life have implications for children’s acceptance by their classmates in nursery school and the later school years. Children who are competent with peers at an early age, and those who show prosocial behaviour, are particularly likely to be accepted by their peers. Aggressive children are often rejected by their peers, although aggression does not always preclude peer acceptance. It is clear that peer relations pose special challenges to children with disorders and others who lack the emotional, cognitive and behavioural skills that underlie harmonious interaction. The risk for children with early behavioural and emotional problems is exacerbated by the peer rejection they experience. Conversely, early friendships and positive relations with peer groups appear to protect children against later psychological problems.


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