restricted access Children's Peer Relations and Their Psychological Adjustment: Differences between Close Friendships and the Larger Peer Group

In a longitudinal study that followed children from fourth through sixth grades, we tested whether problems in children's peer relations preceded psychological maladjustment and whether adjustment difficulties paved the way for poor social relationships. Both close friendships and peer group acceptance were examined. Our findings indicated that less peer acceptance predicted more internalizing and externalizing symptoms and less global self-worth two years later but that psychological adjustment did not predict future peer acceptance. Conversely, the lack of a supportive close friendship did not predict worse psychological functioning; however, depressive symptoms and low self-worth did predict less close friend support two years later. These findings highlight the importance of distinguishing the different kinds of social bonds that children form with peers.