Peer Relationships in Middle Childhood

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  • 0:01 Development
  • 1:10 Friendship
  • 2:50 Conformity
  • 4:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

As children grow, they become more independent of their parents and turn to their peers more often. In this lesson, we'll examine children's evolving concepts of friendship, peer group norms, social conformity, and social comparison.


Kristy is very excited but very nervous. She's getting ready to go into the sixth grade and that involves moving from the elementary school she's attended for years to a big middle school. She's not sure what to expect, or how to handle the new school.

Kristy is 11-years old and is in middle childhood, which is the time between ages seven and twelve. During middle childhood, children grow and change in new ways. They learn how to use logic to solve problems, which is part of intellectual development. They grow taller and more coordinated as part of physical development.

Their relationships with people change, too. Socioemotional development involves growth and change in relating to others. As part of the socioemotional development that occurs during middle childhood, kids become more independent of their parents and look more and more to their peers for guidance. This is a normal part of growing up. Let's look closer at two aspects of socioemotional development in middle childhood: changing conceptions of friendship and conformity.


When Kristy was a toddler, she was playing one day with a neighbor named Jenni. They had a good time and got along well. Later that night, Kristy's mom told Kristy to tell her dad about playing with her friend. Kristy was confused. What did it mean to be someone's friend?

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