Friendships for wellbeing? parents’ and practitioners’ positioning of young children’s friendships in the evaluation of wellbeing factors

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Friendship matters for young children’s development, learning and experience of wellbeing. This paper emphasises the significance of young children’s friendships for their wellbeing, especially in the context of early years settings. Findings are presented from two online questionnaires developed for the project, in which 155 parents/carers and 285 practitioners in England expressed their perceptions of what matters for young children’s wellbeing. Data shows some ambivalence in the views of both parents/carers and practitioners about the importance of friendship in this context. Both groups gave low prioritisation to ‘the company of friends’ for children’s wellbeing. As friendships are of central importance to young children themselves, this could suggests that adults and children may have different priorities, which raises questions about the extent to which young children’s friendships are seen as important by adults. The paper concludes by proposing the need for practitioners in particular, but also parents, to consider their roles and priorities for children’s lives within schools and nurseries, including how they might sensitively support and facilitate children’s friendships in play, activities and everyday life.

© 2019, Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The attached document (embargoed until 17/12/2020) is an author produced version of a paper published in INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EARLY YEARS EDUCATION uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2019


  • young children
  • friendships
  • Wellbeing
  • peer relationships
  • parent perspectives
  • practitioner perspectives

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