The home remains a child's most important sphere of influence during the early school years. It also becomes the base from which children explore relationships outside of the home. A child's increasing independence is tested, for example, by the first night spent away from home. The child returns home with a sense of pride and newfound confidence.
During the first years of school, children go about making friends with little forethought or planning. They may burst into a group and demand, "I want to play, too."
With age and experience, they begin to refine their basic social skills. For example, in the interests of friendship, they will play a game their friends want to play while putting off their own immediate desires. They also get better at seeking out friends who are more compatible, so relationships are smoother.
In these years, children strive to "fit in" at home, at school, and with their friends. Feeling successful in these areas builds children's self-confidence and self-concept, which helps them to manage and overcome future challenges.
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