Children’s relationships with their peers and with adults outside of the family have a significant influence on the way they see the world and themselves. Their school and community relationships impact their feelings, thinking, behavior, and skills and can enhance or impede their development. It is important to allow children the room to develop their own way of relating in the world, including letting them make and learn from their mistakes. There are also signs that the child is struggling with relationships and may need some type of support, such as the following.
- They have no friends and seem to really struggle with social and emotional skills.
- They have frequent or intense conflicts with peers that may include physical aggression, screaming, threatening, or out of control behavior.
- They refuse to be, or are fearful of being separated from their friend / boyfriend / girlfriend, even for short periods or for good reasons, or there are signs of partner violence.
- Their friends have a negative impact on their behavior and decisions, leading to conflict and problems with family, neighbors, school, and/or law enforcement.
- They feel bullied, scapegoated, victimized, or are fearful of other youth or adults.
- They get into frequent or intense power struggles with adults or authority figures, or they challenge or disrespect them, sometimes resulting in school discipline or police involvement.
- They spend time with youth or adults engaged in drug use, crime, gangs, prostitution, sex trafficking, or other high risk activity.
- They spend time alone with an adult for unclear or inappropriate reasons, creating concern of victimization.