Children's relationships with adults and peers: An examination of elementary and junior high school students

Michael Lynch, Dante Cicchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

263 Scopus citations


Social and affective processes connected to children's relationships inside and outside the school setting are important factors in children's successful adaptation to school. This study examines the relationships of 1,226 low-risk elementary and middle school children across a variety of relationship partners. Descriptive data on the profile of these school-aged children's patterns of relatedness with others are presented. Developmental trends are explored as well. There is a shift in the self-reported quality of children's relationships with adults (mothers and teachers) and peers (best friends and classmates) from elementary school to middle school. In middle school, children report more positive perceptions of their relationships with peers and less positive perceptions of their relationships with adults than do elementary school children. These findings are discussed in terms of the implications that children's interpersonal relationships have for facilitating readiness to learn and active engagement in school. Limitations of the present study and methodological issues connected to the assessment of relationships are discussed as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-99
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of school psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the William T. Grant Foundation and the Spunk Fund, Inc. We express our thanks to the children and staff of the Brighton Central School District for their assistance in this research. In particular, we acknowledge Christy Walsh, Phil Burrows, Linda Hughes, Paul DiStefano and everyone at Brighton Middle School, French Road Elementary School, and Council Rock Primary School. Finally, we are grateful for the editorial feedback of Bob Pianta, and for the helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers.


  • Mothers
  • Peers
  • Relationships
  • Teachers


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