FAMILYRELATIONSHIPS: Family relationships arecritical to the physical, mental, andsocial health of growing pre-schoolers. Many aspects of thefamily—parentingtechniques, discipline, the numberand the birth order of siblings, thefamilys finances, the familyscircumstances, the familyshealth, and more—contribute toyoung childrens psychosocialdevelopment.
PARENTING: Parenting styles have a definite impacton children. The authoritative style ofparenting fosters open communication andproblem solving between parents and theirchildren. In contrast, authoritarianparenting may produce fearful anddependent children. Permissive parentingmay result in rebellious children. Andindifferent parenting may render hostileand delinquent children. In two-parentfamilies, in which each parent has adifferent parenting style, one parents styleoften positively counterbalances the otherparents style. For instance, a womanspermissive style may counterbalance herhusbands authoritarian style.
SIBLINGS: Siblings are childrens first andforemost peer group. Pre-schoolersmay learn as much or more from theirsiblings as from their parents.Regardless of age differences, siblingrelationships mirror other socialrelationships, providing basicpreparation for dealing with peopleoutside of the home. Only siblings maysimultaneously have equal and unequalstatus in the home, and only siblingsmay provide opportunities (whetherdesired or not) for children to practicecoping with the positives and negativesof human relationships.
PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT: No longer totally dependent ontheir parents, preschoolers begin thelong road to becoming adept atfunctioning on their own in the world.During early childhood (ages 2–6), children gain some sense of beingseparate and independent from theirparents. According to Erikson, the task ofpreschoolers is to developautonomy, or self-direction, (ages 1–3), as well as initiative, or enterprise(ages3–6).
FRIENDS AND PLAYMATES: Early family attachmentsmay determine the ease with whichchildren form friendships and otherrelationships. Children who haveloving, stable, and acceptingrelationships with their parents andsiblings are generally more likely toform similar relationships with friendsand playmates.
First friendships are created when achild is about age 3, although preschoolersmay play together before that age. Muchlike adults, preschoolers tend to developfriendships with children who sharecommon interests, are likable, offersupport, and are similar in sizes and looks.Childhood friendships create opportunitiesfor children to learn how to handle anger-provoking situations, to share, to learnvalues, and to practice more maturebehaviors. Preschoolers who are popularwith their peers excel at these activities.These children know how to be afriend, not just how to have friends. On theother hand, children who “tattle” or directhostility toward their playmates tend to beless popular. In turn, aggressive childrenoften have fewer friends, which fuels theirhostility even more.
FEAR AND AGGRESSION:Two negative emotions experiencedduring early childhood are fear(anxiety) andaggression (hostility).
Preschool children probablybecome fearful because of theirremarkable fantasy life, and theirinability to distinguish between realityand pretending. Childhood fears areusually temporary; these fearsnormally disappear with time.Preschoolers (ages 2–6) are typicallyafraid of animals, bodily injury, darkplaces, loud noises, strangers, andbeing separated from their parents.Although childhood fears are normaland to be expected, exaggerated orchronic fears should be evaluated by aprofessional.
Childhood aggression has been atopic of intense study in recent decades.Aggression, which appears by ages 2 or3, may involve an intentional action toharm another (such as biting anotherchild) or directed hostility to attainparticular goals (such as taking a toyfrom another child). Fortunately, mostchildren become less aggressive at aboutage 6. Preschoolers probably developaggression in response to theiregocentric perspective. Anyone oranything that frustrates egocentricchildren by preventing them from gettingwhat they want is likely to trigger ahostile response. The male hormonetestosterone may also explain why malesare more likely than females to exhibitaggressive behavior. As with childhoodfears, exaggerated or chronic aggressionshould be evaluated by a professional.
Additonal sa parenting Different parents employ different parenting techniques. The techniques parents choose depend on cultural and communitystandards, the situation, and the childrens behavior at the time. The techniques that parents use to relate to their children are characterized by degrees of parental control and parental warmth.Parental control involves the degree to which parents arerestrictive in their use of parenting techniques, and parental warmth involves the degree to which they are loving, affectionate, and approving in their use of these techniques. Authoritarian parents demonstrate high parental control and low parental warmth when parenting. Permissive parents demonstrate high parental warmth and low parental control when parenting. Indifferent parents demonstrate low parental control and low warmth. Authoritative parents, however, demonstrate appropriate levels of both parental control and warmth.