Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of Peer Relationships and Gender on Turkish Children's Language Skills

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of Peer Relationships and Gender on Turkish Children's Language Skills

Article excerpt

The relationships among language skills, peer relationships, and gender were investigated with 236 Turkish children aged between S and 6 years. I found that aggression was not a significant predictor of language skills when controlling for gender. Prosocial behavior, asocial behavior, exclusion, fearfulness/anxiety, hyperactivity/distractibility, and victimization variables were significant predictors of the language skills of children while controlling for gender.

Keywords: language skills, Turkish children, peer relationships, gender, aggression, victimization.

Preschool is an important period during which a child's social environment widens, more skills are acquired, and permanent improvements are achieved in all areas of development. Skills and behaviors acquired in the early years of Ufe also have short term effects on other skills such as social competence, socialemotional adjustment, and academic skills, and in the long term, they have direct effects on the future development of the child.

Acquisition of the mother tongue, which is one such area of development, starts in a child's first year. In the preschool period, vocabulary develops rapidly and the rules of the mother tongue start to be acquired. In the first two years of Ufe, and more generally in the preschool period, basic language skills like speaking, Ustening, and comprehension are acquired (Demir & Yapici, 2007). The child starts to express feelings, thoughts, and wishes, and starts to recognize and understand other people. In addition, language is a functional mediator in the solution of social problems (Cole, Cole, & Lightfoot, 2001). Language is also noteworthy because of its relationship to other fields of development. For example, it is closely associated with both mental and social development. Mental development affects language development; language skills, in turn, help develop thinking abilities. Social interaction helps language acquisition in various ways, through modeling, imitation, reinforcement, and so on. Some researchers (Bush & Ladd, 2001; Howe & McWilliam, 2006) have drawn attention to the interaction between language and cognitive development, and argued that children with insufficient cognitive development encounter problems in linguistic development, and therefore, in social interaction as well. They explained the relationship between the two as follows: Lack of cognitive development may prevent the use or the learning of language skills. Deficiencies in language skills may prevent the child from expressing him/herself, from developing relationships with peers, and from solving problems via talking. If the child expresses his/her reactions by means other than speech, his/her social relationships will be negatively affected. As this example demonstrates, linguistic development in the preschool period is a very important subject, with its short term and long term effects and interactions with other areas of development.

Biological processes, heredity, mental development, psychological problems, and interactions with others all play a role in the learning process. Regarding interactions with others, relationships with the family and peers shape future development. Family shapes the linguistic development of the child from birth onwards, both serving as a model and supporting development. In addition to the family, peer relationships form the other dimension of social Ufe during this period. Both the number of peers the child comes into contact with and the quality of the interaction with peers change. The first peer relationships formed in the preschool period may have lasting effects on social, emotional, and cognitive development in the following years. Children who have problems with their peers in these years are significantly more likely to experience problems such as depression, substance abuse, dropping out of school, and social maladaptation than children who achieve successful interactions in their first peer relationships (Hartup, 1989; Ladd, 1999; Sundheim & Voeller, 2004). …

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