ABSTRACT

In chapter 3, i examined how children's social cognitive abilities and social knowledge can affect their peer relationships, but we also need to know what children actually do in their relationships, and how they make use of their social knowledge to manage their relationships. In this chapter I will move the focus of attention to an examination of the impact of children's overt behaviour on their relationships. This is a crucial level of analysis as, if we exclude simple inferences based on physical appearance, the only insights that we have about a person's character and values are derived from their behaviour. However potentially attractive or compatible one child is to another, this has to be communicated if a relationship is to be established. And these behavioural cues are not, of course, only important at the early stages of a relationship. Different behaviours and different skills may be important at different stages of a relationship, but they will be important. However positive a child's intentions and attitudes are towards a friend, if these cannot be communicated or if wrong cues convey an incorrect message, misunderstandings and relationship difficulties are likely to ensue. On a positive note, an understanding of the interactional bases of children's peer relationships also has important implications for the possibility of social skills training to help isolated children, a topic explored further in Chapter 8.