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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. The presence and quality of friendships are posited to have developmental ificance, yet little is known about the extent to which children without friends versus low-quality friendships compare on socioemotional adjustment. Based on maternal reports at kindergarten, four friendship groups were formed: no friends, low quality, average quality, and high quality, and these groups were used to predict teacher-reported behavior problems and social skills concurrently in kindergarten and longitudinally in first and third grade.

Concurrently, low-quality friendships were associated with greater externalizing behavior, whereas high-quality friendships were associated with greater social skills. Longitudinally, having no friends in kindergarten was associated with higher levels of externalizing behavior for boys, but lower levels for girls.

Children without friends also showed more internalizing problems at first grade. Lastly, having a high-quality friendship in kindergarten was associated with greater social skills in first and third grades, but only for boys. underscore high-quality friendship as a context for the development of social skills and indicate different trajectories of problem behavior for kindergarten children with no friends versus low-quality friendships.

In contrast with parent-child and sibling relationships, which are more complementary in nature i. In the current study, we consider, togethertwo of these friendship indices — presence and quality. Yet, to date, no study Illinois male 23 years old looking for bestfriend explicitly compared the adjustment of children without friends and children with low-quality friendships.

The above research clearly suggests the benefits of having friends, yet as Hartup has underscored, it is not simply the presence of friendship that confers developmental benefits. Higher quality friendships were also associated with less loneliness for third- through sixth-grade boys in one study Erdley et al.

Friendships involving conflict and hostility, on the other hand, have been associated with adjustment problems. For instance, higher levels of conflict have been associated with more aggression and peer rejection for preschool-aged children Sebanc, and with higher levels of loneliness and school avoidance for kindergarten boys Ladd et al. For instance, Kupersmidt and colleagues found that as the level of conflict between older school-aged children and their friends increased, so did the likelihood of externalizing behavior problems.

Yet, most studies have examined the contributions of either friendship presence or quality. The few studies, to date, that have considered both friendship presence and quality have focused on sociometric or academic outcomes or have not explicitly compared groups of children without friends to groups of children with varying friendship quality e.

Yet, in both of these studies, friendship presence and quality were examined in separate models and, therefore, did not allow for a direct comparison of the effects of friendship presence versus quality. Such an examination may be particularly warranted as children begin formal schooling, given that both having friends and having high quality friendships have been associated with better school adjustment during this transition Ladd, ; Ladd et al.

Having friends, however, did not predict adjustment for preschool-aged children when moving from one Head Start classroom to another within the same building Vaughn et al. Friendship presence and quality during the transition to kindergarten also appear to foster academic and social adjustment at the end of the school year, indicating that early friendships can have lasting effects Ladd, ; Ladd et al. Yet, it remains unknown whether children without friends differ from children with low-quality friendships on adjustment.

The current study addresses this gap. As mentioned ly, it is unknown whether children who do not have friends compared with children who have low-quality friendships differ in their adjustment. Methodological and logistical challenges may hinder such comparisons. Further, children with no friends would necessarily be missing from analyses that utilize a continuous measure of friendship quality e.

Again, this strategy requires large samples, especially if moderators such as child gender are to be considered.

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To address the main objective of this study, we examined the extent to which children in four kindergarten friendship groups — no friends, low quality, average quality, and high quality — differed on teacher-reported problem behaviors and social skills concurrently kindergarten and longitudinally first and third grades. Further, to assess whether the kindergarten friendship groups were associated with change in later adjustment, we controlled for levels of kindergarten adjustment in the longitudinal analyses.

For both the concurrent and longitudinal associations, we tested the following hypotheses. Prior research has also suggested that lower friendship quality is associated with loneliness and depressive symptoms Erdley et al. Third, based on research e. Inclusion of an average group offers further insight into the meaning of such differences. We also considered whether effects of the kindergarten friendship groups on child adjustment were moderated by child gender.

The quality and presence of friendship have been linked to loneliness and depression for boys but not girls in some samples Erdley et al. Given the mixed findings for child gender as a moderator of friendship-adjustment associations in prior studies, our examination of child gender was exploratory.

The subsample examined in the current report met criteria for one of four friendship groups see below and had available data on at least one measure of teacher-reported child adjustment.

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Demographic characteristics for the subsample of are shown in Table 1. Mothers averaged The average income-to-needs ratio combined across data collected at 6, 15, 24, 36, and 54 months was 3. Mothers were asked at 6, 15, 24, 36, and 54 months whether they were currently living with a partner or husband. Maternal years of education were collected when children were one month of age.

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Family income-to-needs ratio were collected at 6, 15, 24, 36, and 54 months and combined across time points. Presence of a partner in the home was collected at 6, 15, 24, 36, and 54 months and combined across time points to assess whether a partner or spouse was in the home at all time points. At the kindergarten time point, mothers completed a 2-part Playmate Questionnaire. In answering the above question, mothers were instructed to consider only non-relative playmates or friends.

For those who proceeded to Part 2 of the Playmate Questionnaire, mothers were asked to choose one playmate or friend for whom they felt best able to provide information regarding the child-playmate relationship. Mothers chose the descriptor that best fit this child-playmate relationship: a best Illinois male 23 years old looking for bestfriend, b like each other a lot, c neutral, or d just tolerate each other. Additionally, mothers rated 19 items on a 4-point scale, ranging from 1 strongly disagree to 4 strongly agree.

In computing this composite of total relationship quality, we reasoned that friendships characterized by high levels of positive interaction and high levels of negative interaction e. Using data from the 2-part Playmate Questionnaire, we created four friendship groups. For these cases, we used the total playmate relationship quality score to create high-quality 1 SD above the Meanaverage-quality 0.

The TRF consists of items describing problem behaviors, and teachers rated each item on a 3-point scale, ranging from 0 not true to 2 very true. The TRF has well-established reliability and validity see Achenbach, Thirty items assessed a range of socially competent behaviors e. Gresham and Elliot have extensively documented the content, criterion, and construct validity of the SSRS. Mothers also completed the 2-part Playmate Questionnaire see above at first grade. At each time point, we created a composite of total relationship quality positive subscale minus negative subscale.

Among the current subsample offriendship quality data were available for cases at first grade and cases at third grade. Prior to conducting the main analyses, we compared the cases included in this report to the cases excluded. Compared with cases excluded, included cases were characterized, on average, by higher levels of maternal education Next, we examined the demographic measures as a function of the kindergarten friendship groups.

Post-hoc comparisons indicated that maternal education and family income was ificantly higher, on average, for the high-quality friendship group versus the no-friends and low-quality groups. Children in the average-quality group were also characterized by more years of maternal education and higher family income compared with children in the no-friends group see Table 1 for Means. Thus, these demographic characteristics were included as covariates in the main analyses. Correlations and descriptive statistics for the child adjustment outcomes are shown in Table 2.

For a given outcome, correlations across time were weak to moderate, and ranged from. At a given time point, correlations across child outcomes were moderate to strong, and ranged from. Due to missing data on the child outcome measures, N s for the main analyses ranged from to Adjusted means and standard errors for the child outcome measures as a function of friendship group are shown in Table 3.

F -statistics for all main effects and unstandardized parameter estimates for the covariates are also shown in Table 3. When the friendship group main effect was ificant, planned contrasts were conducted.

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Cohen indicated d values of. Means reported above for the Kindergarten friendship groups are adjusted for the following covariates: maternal education, family income-to-needs ratio, presence of maternal partner in the home, and child ethnicity.

Of the three models predicting child adjustment in kindergarten, ificant main effects of friendship group emerged for externalizing behavior and social skills. The friendship group main effect was non-ificant for the model predicting internalizing behavior see Table 3. Children in the no-friends group fell in between and were not ificantly different on externalizing behavior than children in the other three groups. Contrasts among the latter groups were all non-ificant. Teacher-reported externalizing behavior, internalizing behavior, and social skills were the dependent variables, respectively.

In addition to controlling for the demographic measures, we also included the relevant measure of kindergarten adjustment as a covariate in each model. For instance, for the model predicting externalizing behavior in grades 1 and 3, we controlled for teacher-reported externalizing behavior in kindergarten. Adjusted means and standard errors for the child outcomes by friendship group and time point are shown in Table 4.

F -statistics for all main effects and unstandardized parameter estimates for the covariates are also shown in Table 4. Adjusted means and standard errors controlled for maternal education, family income-to-needs ratio, presence of maternal partner in the home, child ethnicity, and the relevant measure of kindergarten adjustment e.

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