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Preschoolers' social competence may depend on the frequency with which informal play activities are initiated by parents', children, and playmates. In this study, measures of children's peer relations in informal and school contexts and the frequency of parents', children's, and peers' play initiations were obtained with 83 preschool children and their families on 2 occasions. Frequent parent initiations were associated with higher levels of prosocial behavior, lower levels of nonsocial behavior and, among boys, greater peer acceptance in preschools. Children who were more initiating of informal peer contacts displayed less anxious behavior in school and were better liked by their classmates. Finally, the degree to which parents involved children in the process of arranging informal play activities was positively related to the frequency with which children initiated their own peer contacts.

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Developmental Psychology

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