Why It’s Important To Teach Children About Peer Association

kids playing, peer association, friendship

Teaching children the importance of peer association and friendship at an early age isn’t a discussion that is usually had. Usually, children are grouped or put in classrooms together and left to figure out how to make friends. Natural selection is perfectly effective, but kids understanding the role of a friend in their life, how to be a good friend, how to start and even end a friendship without conflict are necessary. 

Peer groups are social groups of people with similar interests. The members of these groups, as they grow and learn new things are likely to influence one another in areas of food, music, fashion, social trends, behavior, and the process of making new friends. 

Children sometimes make these associations choosing friends based on the wrong standards. It is a parent or adult figures responsibility to teach the right standards.

From an educator’s standpoint, I have found myself in many situations where I am having to have lunch with a group of girls or talk boys down from fights and having the friendship discussion because things have gone awry and they do not have the tools to handle them appropriately.

Vocabulary also plays a part. The word friend is overused when we should be teaching words like acquaintance, classmates, neighbor, church member, peer, associate, etc.

peer associations, friendship

Target Audience

For children specifically in the upper elementary grades and those that have made the transition into middle school, friends are a big majority of their lives. Having them or not having them weighs heavily on their self-esteem and supersedes the inevitable truths of life. So, It is important to have an open dialogue with these age groups about their understanding of friendship, the possibility of relationships not lasting, and how to effectively handle that. 

So here is what the discussion should cover when you have a conversation about peer association with your preteen:


Kids should choose friends that have common interests as them. This way they aren’t pressured into being something or someone they are not just to fit in.

Them being comfortable with how and who they are is crucial to their peace of mind and standing firm in that at an early age will make things a bit easier later in life.


I am not saying that there has to be an interview process before someone is deemed friend-worthy, but through observation, one can tell if another’s standards of behavior are similar to their own. 

Choosing friends with morals that align with their own will keep kids from being put in social situations that make them uncomfortable and being asked to do or try things that are not age-appropriate and are possibly illegal.


Trust is necessary in all relationships. It makes us feel safe. It requires us to keep our promises and more than that, things shared in confidence.

Trust is the friendship ending and your personal matters still being private.

Trust is a demonstration of respect.


Like trust, communication is a pillar of any healthy relationship. The ability to use words to express yourself, share how you feel-what is ok and not ok and to confide in each other is how relationships grow and evolve. 

If one or both parties aren’t communicating there will most certainly be a breakdown in peer relationships.

kids playing in grass, peers, peer association


Nothing quite compares to someone accepting you for who you are. In relationships with others, that same courtesy should be extended. This is important because it builds a strong genuine connection, erases the possibility of resentment, and allows others to just be. 

The role of a friend in any stage of life is important. The Bible says that “there is a friend that will stick closer than a brother.

It also says in Proverbs 13:20 “ that whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

In today’s society, a friend is a precious commodity. Having the right one(s) in your life will both stretch and strengthen.

My charge to you is to teach your children about peer association, the value of friendship, the joy of having good friends from a variety of backgrounds and the beauty of sustaining those relationships for many years.



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