Just how important are reliable friends to a child's emotional development?

A study at Concordia University looked at the importance of relationships with peers in childhood and found there are effects that last long into adulthood.

According to the wide-ranging study, strong relationships with peers are a good indicator of emotional stability. 

Teenagers were questioned five times a day over the course of four consecutive days about their emotions, both positive and negative, with an aim to measure fluctuations in emotions. 

Often severe fluctuations in emotions led to mental health problems in the future, including anxiety and depression. They found those with solid friendship relationships reported having higher levels of positive effects, happier feelings and lower levels of negative effects than children who were not. 

Friendship is important , said Concordia University psychology professor William Bukowski. 

"It becomes increasingly important as children begin to move away from their families. When they get into the older school-age years, friendships become increasingly important, certainly as they get into high school," he said.

Bukowski said parents who want to talk to their kids about friendships should have them pose them two questions:


1. What kind of a friend do you want to be?

"Do you want to be the kind of friend who is predictable, who offers security to their peers, to their friends?" he said.


2. What kind of friends do you want to have?

"Do you want to be a friend of someone because that might be attractive because they're cool or popular – or do you want to maybe orient yourself towards friends who you think are going to give you that stable, secure base that's going to protect you from these intense fluctuations and emotions?" he said.