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California Essentials for Childhood Initiative (CA)

The California Essentials for Childhood Initiative uses a public health and collective impact approach to align and enhance collaborative efforts to promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children, youth and families through systems, policy and social norms change.

With a Little Help from my Friends—The Importance of Peer Relationships For Social-Emotional Development []


The Issue

Successfully navigating the social world of peers can be challenging. Children and teenagers benefit from the social and emotional support that friends offer, but they can also experience occasional social stressors and peer conflicts.

Key Findings

  • Peer relationships provide a unique context in which children learn a range of critical social emotional skills, such as empathy, cooperation, and problem-solving strategies.

  • Peer relationships can also contribute negatively to social emotional development through bullying, exclusion, and deviant peer processes.

  • Universal, school-based, social emotional learning programs provide a strong foundation for promoting healthy social emotional development and creating positive peer cultures.

  • Children experiencing peer difficulties often need additional, systematic, and intensive social skill coaching.

  • Peers can be powerful forces that facilitate or alternatively undermine group programs.

[For more on this story by Pepler D, and Bierman K, go to]

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