Your outlook, positive or negative, can influence the relationships you have with those around you: friends, family, and co-workers. Now, a new study suggests a parent’s viewpoint can also have an impact on how a child develops his or her friendships.
Parents are caregivers and their child’s primary teacher for so many things. But can parents really influence how kids make friends? In two studies, researchers observed 270 four to six year olds and their parents as they were given a picture book showing challenging interactions, like a block tower being bumped by a peer. In the first study, parents explained the situation in their own words. In the second study, some parents were instructed to discuss positive interpretations of the situations, like the bump being an accident. A second group of parents discussed norms and values, like sharing is good or aggression is wrong. And a third group had no discussion.
The researchers found when parents viewed the situation as non-hostile or discussed with their child that aggression is not a normal response, the child was less likely to see the peer as an adversary. That may even open the door to a new friendship.
Even though these were short-term studies, the researchers believed similar effects could be found if parents looked at day-to-day interactions their child has with actual peers.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.