Best Friend Benefits Child's Mind, Body, Study
SUNDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A best friend can help
children deal with negative experiences, a new study suggests.
"Having a best friend present during an unpleasant event has an immediate impact on a child's body and mind," said study co-author William Bukowski, a psychology professor and director of the Center for Research in Human Development at Concordia University, in Montreal. "If a child is alone when he or she gets in trouble with a teacher or has an argument with a classmate, we see a measurable increase in cortisol levels and decrease in feelings of self-worth."
In conducting the study, researchers asked 55 boys and 48 girls
from grades 5 and 6 in Montreal to record their feelings and
experiences in a journal over the course of four days. The
children's levels of cortisol -- the stress hormone -- were also
monitored in regular saliva tests.
The study, recently published in the journal
Developmental Psychology, found that cortisol increased and self-worth decreased when a child had a negative experience. However, with a best friend present when trouble struck, cortisol levels and feelings of self-worth changed less.
The researchers noted that what happens during childhood can
affect people as adults, including having feelings of low
"Our physiological and psychological reactions to negative experiences as children impact us later in life," explained Bukowski in a university news release. "Excessive secretion of cortisol can lead to significant physiological changes, including immune suppression and decreased bone formation. Increased stress can really slow down a child's development."
The study's authors said previous studies have also shown that
having friendships can help protect people from bullying, exclusion
and other forms of aggression.
The University of Arizona provides more information on
peer relationships and friendship.
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