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Parental Bonding Help Kids with Social Interactions

Parental Bonding Help Kids with Social Interactions

Strong bonds to a parent can help a child as young as three years old develop relationships among playmates as the child is usually more positive and adaptable and a more responsive partner.

Moreover, University of Illinois (UI) researchers believe the parental relationship helps children associate with difficult peers as they will have confidence in asserting their needs.

The study is published in the journal Developmental Psychology.

“Securely attached children are more responsive to suggestions or requests made by a new peer partner. A child who has experienced a secure attachment relationship with caregivers is likely to come into a new peer relationship with positive expectations,” said Dr. Nancy McElwain, a UI professor of human development.

In the study, the 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 favorably on the second and third visits when the peer partner’s anger was low — but not when the other child’s anger was high,” the researcher said.

“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 challenging partner,” McElwain said.

“A more securely attached child was also likely to use suggestions and requests rather than commands and intrusive behavior (such as grabbing toys away) during play with an anger-prone peer during the first two visits. 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 said.

The study showed that a child’s level of attachment security, their partner’s tendency to become angry, and how well the children knew each other (earlier vs. later visits) combined to predict a child’s behavior.

“Behavior toward a peer partner depended on the partner’s temperament as much as the child’s own attachment. Consideration of both factors in combination is needed to understand a child’s behavior toward a new peer,” McElwain said.

The child’s own temperament also played a role in understanding her behavior toward new peer partners. Children whose parents described them as socially fearful were less assertive overall, she noted.

“But don’t confuse a difficult temperament with an insecure attachment. You may have a fussy infant, but if you respond to him sensitively, he will develop a strong bond with his parents and will likely go on to enjoy positive, close relationships with others,” she said.

Source: University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Parental Bonding Help Kids with Social Interactions

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Parental Bonding Help Kids with Social Interactions. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 17, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/06/20/parental-bonding-help-kids-with-social-interactions/71474.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.