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Title:The contribution of peers to children's adaptation to becoming a sibling
Author(s):Kramer, Laurie F.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Parke, Ross D.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Educational Psychology
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Abstract:The birth of a second child is a critical life transition for firstborn children and their families. Children vary in their adaptation to this transition, and the processes that mediate this are poorly understood. The purpose of this research was to describe the contribution of the peer relationship to children's adaptation to this transition.
Thirty 3 to 5 year old children whose families were expecting a second child participated. A naturalistic and longitudinal design provided the framework for gathering observational and self-report data central to the children's functioning in three salient relationship systems: mother-child, sibling and best friend peer. The families were followed from the last trimester of pregnancy, to six months following the baby's birth. Mothers were interviewed at three time points about their child's adaptation. The quality of the developing sibling relationship, along with mother-child interaction, was assessed by videotaping interactions in the home every two months. In addition, firstborn children played with their self-selected best friends in five repeated pre- and post-birth sessions in their homes.
The results of this initial study were in agreement with previous research in illustrating the stressful effects of becoming a sibling (Nadelman & Begun, 1982; Dunn & Kendrick, 1982; Stewart et. al., 1987). Furthermore, peer relationship variables were found to be important mediators of adaptation to the transition. The overall quality of the sibling relationship six months after the birth of the sibling, could be reliably predicted by the nature of the child's relationship with an intimate peer at pre-birth intervals. This result was significant even after controlling for the effects of age, sex, social competence, and quality of the mother-child interaction. The qualities of the peer relationship that appeared to best mediate this effect reflected abilities in promoting a positive affective climate with a peer by playing interactively, resolving conflicts, and managing negative affect. Children who were able to promote these qualities in their relationships with friends were also better able to invoke these behaviors in their sibling relationship. Findings are supportive of Hartup's (1983) broad synergistic model and suggest that linkages do exist between family and peer systems of relationships.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Kramer, Laurie F.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI8916272
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI8916272

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