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Case Study - Prosocial Behaviors and Friendship

            Creating and maintaining friendships are a fundamental goal for all children as they develop into young adults. Friendship is described as one of the basic human needs for survival, and contributes significantly to ones development (Woodhead, Faulkner and Littleton, 1999). Understanding why and how children make their choices about friendships has become an area of focus for contemporary researchers and scholars. Through a range of studies, it is understood that developing friendships has been identified as one of the most influential elements in determining a child's ability to adjust at school and develop social relationships (Petriwskyj, Thorpe and Tayler, 2005). Therefore, children who are accepted by their peers are able to create healthier friendships and give reports of their enjoyment for school (Tomada, Schneider, Domini, Greenman and Fonzi, 2005). Those children who are unable to maintain healthy friendships are more likely to withdraw themselves from classroom activities and show little desire to go to school (Buhs and Ladd, 2001). Friendships serve a range of purposes within the school context, and contribute to a child's holistic well-being and can effect factors such as motivation, their ability to compromise and socialise (Guroglu, Cillessen, Haselager and Lueshout, 2012). Children are often encouraged by teachers to simply ask another child to become their friend, however Wentzel and Erdley (1993) indicate that making friends is a far more complex process, which requires children to use prosocial behaviors to build relationships. As a result of these studies, it is understood that children with low sociability skills are at risk of significantly impacting their present and future relationships, including both friendships and other dyadic interactions (Cillessen, Jiang, West and Laszkowski, 2005). Children's views of their friends and others have been found to experience evident developmental changes.

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