Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Preschool Years (3–5)

What role do friendships play in the preschool years?

In keeping with the profound developments in self-control, social understanding, and emotional awareness, there is a new emphasis on peer relationships. Preschool children now have a basic capacity for peer-to-peer relationships. Although toddlers show interest in other children, they do not have the capacity to relate to other children without constant adult intervention. In contrast, preschool children are capable of enduring, emotionally important relationships with other children. Preschool children can make friends. This is not to say that preschool friendships are completely mature. Quite the opposite. At this age, friendships are highly unstable and prone to constant disruptions. Minor conflict often leads to a declaration of the end of the friendship: “Johnny isn’t my friend anymore!” Luckily the bad times are generally short lived and once the storm passes, the friendship resumes: “OK, Johnny, you can be my friend again.”


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