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The Importance of Language, Social, and Behavioral Skills Across Early and Later Childhood as Predictors of Social Competence With Peers

by Heather Hebert-Myers, Cathy L. Guttentag, Paul R. Swank, Karen E. Smith, Susan H. Landry
Applied Developmental Science ()


This study examined the role of language, attention/impulse control, and mother-child play in predicting later peer competence by assessing 252 children at ages 3 and 8 years. Children born term (n=90) or preterm (n=162) were included to examine the question of how variability in skills influenced social outcomes and whether relations were comparable for these 2 groups known to vary in development. Path analyses, which were comparable for both groups, showed that social connectedness, compliance, and noncompliance with peer requests were predicted by concurrent language skills, whereas concurrent impulsivity and inattentiveness were important for understanding frustration tolerance/flexibility with peers. Three-year language and toy play skills showed indirect influences on peer competence through direct influences on 8-year language and inattention. These results indicate that early social and language skills contribute to various aspects of later competent peer play and highlight the importance of including multiple cognitive and behavioral factors in models examining peer competence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved) (from the journal abstract)

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