Faculty Books and Book Chapters

Friendship, Childhood

Friendship, Childhood

Book Title

Macmillan Encyclopedia of Families, Marriages, and Intimate Relationships


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Book Chapter



Friendship is defined as a voluntary, reciprocal relationship between at least two individuals in which there is a mutual exchange of affection for one another (Rubin et al. 2008). Friends typically exhibit mutual liking and engage in shared interests or activities (Erwin 1998; Rizzo 1989). Friendships are established and influenced by social interactions and relationships with others and develop through dynamic processes; however, not all peer interactions lead to the establishment of friendships. The motivation to form meaningful friendships typically comes from the need for affiliation, affection, or intimacy. The absence of these social relations can be detrimental for the individual and lead to social isolation or withdrawal, which has implications for one’s overall psychosocial adjustment. Children’s relationships with peers can be distinguished from their relationships with adults (e.g., parents, teachers). Non-peer relationships tend to be hierarchical, with the adult having more power, resources, and knowledge than the child; by contrast, peer relationships are horizontal in nature, as both individuals in a peer dyad equally benefit from and contribute to the relationship. Through peer relationships, children are able to develop and practice crucial skills, such as perspective taking, social and emotional understanding, and conflict resolution (Howes 2009). The development of these cognitive, social, and emotional regulation skills is critical for peer acceptance, secure attachments with others, and positive friendships throughout life.

Edition Number




Publication Date





Farmington Hills, Michigan


Editors: James J. Ponzetti Jr., Maureen Blankemeyer, Sean M. Horan, Heidi Lyons, Aya Shigeto. Two-volume set.

Friendship, Childhood
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