Achievement versus maintenance of control in 6-year-old children's interactions with peers: an observational study
Green, VA and Cillessen, AHN, Achievement versus maintenance of control in 6-year-old children's interactions with peers: an observational study, Educational Psychology, 28, (1) EJ ISSN 1469-5820 (2008) [Refereed Article]
Conflict management is a skill best learned early in life, and lays a foundation for the development of future relationships. The present study examined the strategies children use when negotiating roles in a dynamic play situation. Participants were 156 children (M age = 6.5 years) in 39 groups of four, who were videotaped in a play activity that required the assistance of two children so that a third could view a cartoon. Groups varied in gender composition (all-girl, all-boy, mixed). Children in each group were unfamiliar with one another at the beginning of the session. There was more variation in the strategies children used to elicit the cooperation of peers than in the strategies they used to gain access to the resource. Children who gained high amounts of viewing time but did not often help others (individualists) said and did more to maintain their role, had longer turns, and used both prosocial and coercive strategies more than children who had high viewing times but often helped others (collaborators). Girl groups had more collaborators than boy groups, whereas boy groups had more onlookers (low viewing, low helping). Boys used a greater number and range of strategies to maintain control of the resource than girls did. The highest level of resource use was predicted by a combination of 'successful entry' and 'individualistic maintenance' strategies. Implications for initiatives to promote negotiation skills and effective conflict management in children are discussed.
prosocial strategy, conflict management, social competence, cooperation, competition, dominance