Peer relationships play an important role in youngsters’ social and emotional development. From early childhood on, children spend a considerable amount of time with peers, and by age 7, children spend most of their daytime hours in school or play settings with classmates and friends. This trend continues, and accelerates, through adolescence (La Greca & Prinstein, 1999). Successful peer relationships contribute to youngsters’ emotional health, facilitating the development of social skills and fostering feelings of personal competence that are essential for adult interpersonal functioning (Hartup, 1996). Supportive friendships also serve a protective function, such as by moderating the adverse effects of parental conflict (Wasserstein & La Greca, 1996).
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