Peer acceptance is the level to which an adolescent or any child is accepted by his or her age mates in the society. It is measured by the value, not the number, of a child’s associations. Peer acceptance is often instituted before a child starts school (Trawick-Smith, 2009), though the number of friends may differ over time as he or she grows. Numerous factors, for instance, culture, physical or psychological disabilities and physical beauty determine the level of peer approval.
Let us now examine how culture, class and special needs such as disability affect peer relationships. More often than not, a child will want to be a friend to a person with whom he or she shares something. This could be neighborhood, school or even social aspects such as church. A child whose father does not own a car may feel uncomfortable hanging around with other children whose parents own several cars, for instance. In addition, a child with physical disabilities may have problems making friends outside his or her family. He or she may feel rejected or neglected, thereby, making it difficult for him or her to make and retain friends. Since peer acceptance is every child’s desire, most will go to any length trying to achieve it even when it is detrimental to their safety, character and well being. This, therefore, means that the society through the teachers must lay down proper structures that ensure acceptance is found within the proper boundaries.
As already mentioned, teachers should have good systems of ensuring that children understand how to get acceptance without getting involved in bad activities. This is because children spend a good portion of their time at schools with teachers. There are many steps that a teacher can take to promote peer acceptance to a child who is experiencing rejection by classmates due to culture, class or even special needs. One of the most significant steps is encouraging the child to get involved in playing the games that other children are playing. Playing has been found to be a significant intermediary in the physical and social development of little children (Berger, 2002). Though it may be difficult at first, the teacher should encourage the child to take part in whatever game he or she can, in order to gain ground for socializing. It has been found that the prevailing trend of reducing the time for playing in preschool so as to boost learning counteracts productivity (Blakemore, 2003) and should, therefore, be discouraged. Another good method that a teacher can adopt is finding out what the particular child, who is experiencing rejection or neglect, is good at or what he or she enjoys doing. Once the teacher finds out, he or she should try to find other children who like the same things and then encourage the rejected child to join them. This will help boost the confidence in the child who is rejected when he or she finds out that there is something he or she can do well. The teacher should also discourage the child from being in the “popular” group. This is because getting in such groups can become stressing since there is the pressure of doing what the others want and not being able to explore what real friendship is all about.
In conclusion, peer acceptance is sought by every child during growth. However, cultural backgrounds, class and special needs are some of the factors that hinder its development. It is calculated by the value of a child’s relationships and may differ as the child grows. For every child to feel appreciated in the society, the teacher has to take some steps which will help in cultivating tolerance and cohabitation among children of different cultures, classes and needs. These steps include identifying the child’s abilities and then encouraging them towards that line, encouraging the child to participate in various sports activities and discouraging them from joining what are considered “popular” groups. These, among other things, will help boost confidence in children, thus, enabling them to grow well in any society.