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On the Way to Friendship: Growing Peer Relationships Among Infants and Toddlers

by Janet Gonzalez-Mena
May/June 2012
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/on-the-way-to-friendship-growing-peer-relationships-among-infants-and-toddlers/5020548/

Imagine this scene in an infant center.

Manuel and Emily who are about 4 months old are lying on their backs in a safe play area with a few simple objects around them on the floor within their reach. They reach out and touch hands. Chantrel, 5 months old, is in the same area. She rolls over onto her stomach and stretches until she is close enough to touch Manuel. She raises her head and chest up, reaches out a hand, and puts it on Manuel's shoulder. She looks intently at his face. He looks back at her. She stretches hard and manages to touch his cheek. The caregiver has moved in close. She says in a quiet voice, "You want to touch ­Manuel's face." Chantrel strokes Manuel's cheek. He looks at her with a curious expression. Then Chantrel reaches for Manuel's hair and grabs hold. "Careful," says the caregiver quietly, touching Chantrel's hand gently. Chantrel lets go and touches Manuel's forehead. "Be gentle," says the caregiver and again strokes her hand softly, modeling the gentleness she is teaching.

I saw this kind of interaction between babies when I interned with Magda Gerber many years ago. I was surprised to see an adult ...

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