Playground politics

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					Playground Politics

 Helping children make and
        keep friends
            Presented by:
   John Waring Clinical Psychologist
Outline of the presentation

   Understanding normal social development.
   Why are friendships important in a
    developmental context.
   How can parents and teachers assist
    successful social development
   The NGS junior school friendship skills group
    training programme
   Time for questions/discussion
Psychosocial Developmental
         Erik Erikson’s
   Childhood Stages of Conflict
Trust Vs. Mistrust (0-1 Year)
 Description: Infants depend on others to
  meet their basic needs, and therefore must
  be able to blindly trust the caregivers to
  provide them.
 Positive outcome: If their needs are met
  consistently and responsively, infants will
  learn to trust their environment and people in
 Negative outcome: If needs are not
  responsibly met, infant may view world as a
  dangerous and unreliable place.
Initiative Vs. Guilt (2-6 Years)
    Description: Children begin to interact with
     environment in more “adult like” manner as motor
     and language skills develop. They learn to maintain
     an eagerness for adventure and play, while learning
     to control impulsive behavior.
    Positive outcome: If parents are encouraging, but
     consistent in discipline, children will learn to accept
     concept of right/wrong without guilt, and not feel
     shame when using their imagination and engaging
     in fantasy play.
    Negative outcome: If not, children may develop a
     sense of guilt and may come to believe that it is
     wrong to be independent.
Competence/Industry Vs.
Inferiority (6-12 Years)
 Description: School is the important event
  at this stage. Children learn to master basic
  social and academic skills. Peers become
  the key social agent and children begin to
  compare themselves with others outside of
  the family.
 Positive outcome: If children can find
  pleasure in learning, being productive, and
  seeking success, they will develop a sense
  of competence.
 Negative outcome: If not, they will develop
  feelings of inferiority.
Identity Vs. Role Confusion
(12-20 Years)
  Description: This is the crossroad between
   childhood and maturity when adolescents
   ask "Who am I?" The key social agent is the
   person’s society of peers.
  Positive outcome: Adolescents who solve
   this conflict successfully will develop a
   strong identity, and will be ready to plan for
   the future.
   Negative outcome: If not, the adolescent
   will sink into confusion, unable to make
   decisions and choices about his/her role in
     Interpersonal behaviours at
    different ages: what to expect.
   Early Childhood Ages 2-6
    – Unoccupied play
    – Solitary play
    – Onlooker behaviour: watching others not asking to
    – Parallel play: doing the same activity side by side
    – Associative play; starting to play together, sharing
      objects talking a little
    – Cooperative play: active coordinated play,
      swapping toys, taking on roles
Middle Childhood Ages 6-10

 – Life becomes much more social and complex
 – 40% of waking hours spent with peers
 – Increasing awareness of peers psychological
   characteristics, personalities and emotions
 – Start to learn expected behaviours when
   interacting with peers
 – Grow in awareness of others opinions
 – Start to become more concerned about equitably
   solving conflicts and preserving friendships
Early Adolescence Ages 10-14

 – Post puberty children increasingly rely on
   peers for emotional support and recreation
 – Self disclosure becomes an important
   element in friendships
 – Increasingly self conscious
 – Peer pressure
Why are friendships important?
   While it may look like child's play, the
    relationships kids form with their peers from
    the young age of six months through
    adolescence exert enormous influence on
    their lives – whether fostering positive
    feelings through friendship, or contributing to
    school-adjustment and later-life problems
    through bullying and rejection. ("Children's
    Peer Relations and Social Competence:
    A Century of Progress," Gary Ladd)
Functions of Peer Relationships
   Children see peers primarily as companions,
    sources of amusement, excitement and
   Peers provide partners for practicing existing
    social skills and trying out new ones
   Peers socialize one another
   Peers contribute to a sense of identity
   Peers help one another make sense of their
   Peers provide emotional and social support

   Three qualities make friendship distinct
    from other types of peer relationships:
    – 1) they are voluntary relationships
    – 2) they are powered by shared routines
      and customs (friends find activities that are
      mutually meaningful and enjoyable)
    – 3) they are reciprocated relationships
   Friends play a role in social emotional
    development that goes beyond that of
    peer relationships. Friends work harder
    to understand another’s perspective and
    work harder on conflict resolution due to
    their emotional investment in the
What are friends for?

 Jeff aged 6: to play with
 Alex aged 9: Friends can help you in life.
  They can make you do better at school. They
  can make you feel better.
 Tina aged 12: To be your friend and help you
  in good times and bad times. They’re there so
  you can tell secrets. They’re people who
  care. They’re there because they like you.
  They’re people you can trust.
Characteristics of Middle childhood
friendships (Ages 6-10)
   Children act differently with friends than
    – More likely to express and regulate their emotions
      and to understand a friends emotional state.
    – They strive to find equitable solutions to conflict in
      order to preserve the relationship.
    – Develop a sense of loyalty.
    – Girls likely to use self disclosure to maintain a
    – Become deliberate in their choice of friends
How parents and teachers can help
develop socially competent children?
   Teach specific social skills and social
    problem solving strategies
   Plan cooperative activities (group work in the
    classroom, joint tasks at home for siblings)
   Label appropriate behaviours as they occur
   Ask to children to consider the effects their
    behaviors may have
   Make it clear aggressive behaviour ( physical
    or psychological) is unacceptable at school or
   Have children role play specific strategies
   Ask children in a group to brainstorm
    approaches to solving social dilemmas
   Encourage children to thing carefully before
    acting in difficult situations
   Give concrete feedback on effective and
    ineffective interpersonal behaviours
   Communicate the message that pro-social
    behaviour is desirable
   Be a good role model
How can parents help?
   "To effectively change children's peer
    relationships – especially undesirable
    relationships or reputations that have
    been entrenched for many years – it
    may not be sufficient to increase
    children's social competence without
    also altering their peer and family
    environments,Children must be taught
    forgiveness and empathy, and must
    learn to be accepting of individual
    differences." (Ladd 2006)
The long term benefits of positive peer
interactions and relationships have been
shown in a number of studies (Oden, 1986).
Greater social adjustment in high school and
adulthood has been observed for people who
at 9 or 10 years of age were judged to be
modestly to well accepted by peers. Poor peer
acceptance results in fewer peer experiences,
few of which are positive, thus creating a
vicious cycle of peer rejection.
Why are Social Skills important to
1. Effectively interacting with peers leads
   to positive adjustment to school
2. Poor social skills highly correlates to low
   academic achievement
We can’t assume kids know to interact
The NGS Junior School Friendship
Skills Group Training Programme
Aim of the training programme

Following on from a successful pilot group in 2006
a decision was made to extend the friendship skills
group to all Year 4 students in 2007.
The aim of the friendship skills group is to ensure
all children have access to specific/timely and
developmentally appropriate friendship skills
training in order to maximise their ability to make,
keep and enjoy positive friendships.
Outline of the Programme

 The friendship skills group takes place over
  five 45 minute sessions run weekly with a 4
  week gap between weeks 4 and 5.
 The programme is run by myself ably
  assisted by Mr Peter Sanders.
 The skills training sessions use a combination
  of open discussion, direct teaching of skills,
  role plays and fun activities to teach the skills
  of friendship.

Week 1
What is a friend? What does a friend do? What
shouldn’t a friend do?
Week 2
Making friends, Keeping friends, Inclusion versus
exclusion, good friends versus best friends
Week 3
Ways to solve problems/comflicts in friendships
How to compromise
Turn taking/sharing friends
Attitude: make a choice to be a good friend
Week 4
•Trust, truth and lies in friendships
 Week 5 ( held after a 3-4 week break)
    revision and discussion of the new skills learnt
   and ways that the children have tried out the
   skills in their friendships

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