10 Social Development and Social Relationships in Middle Childhood

Developmental Psychology


  1. Joan E. Grusec,
  2. Maria Paula Chaparro,
  3. Megan Johnston,
  4. Amanda Sherman

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop206010

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Grusec, J. E., Chaparro, M. P., Johnston, M. and Sherman, A. 2012. Social Development and Social Relationships in Middle Childhood. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 6:III:10.

Author Information

  1. University of Toronto, Department of Psychology, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


In middle childhood, peers become important as children spend more time away from home. Major improvements occur in children's ability to understand the perspective of others and in their inferences about the psychological attributes of others, as well as of themselves. Social development continues to result from a complex interaction between genes and the environment in which children find themselves, and behavior geneticists have begun to identify the role of genetic mediation in social development, as well as specific genes that are involved in various social behaviors. Different children respond to the same socialization intervention in different ways, depending on a host of factors including variables such as age, sex, temperament, and the cultural context in which the intervention takes place. As a result, effective socialization is a function of the way children perceive and respond to a given intervention, rather than a function of a specific action on the part of the socializing agent. Socialization goes on in a variety of domains, with each domain characterized by a different kind of relationship between agent of socialization and child, and the actions of the latter need to be appropriate to the relationship or domain that is currently activated. Although parents, peers, and siblings differ considerably in their characteristics relative to the child being socialized, they all, nevertheless, operate in the same set of domains or relationships.


  • middle childhood;
  • socialization;
  • parents;
  • peers;
  • siblings