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Family Matters No. 59 - June 2001

Children's social competence

Diana Smart and Ann Sanson

Abstract

The learning of social skills and socially acceptable behaviours is one of the most important tasks of childhood. Children's social competence is the outcome of a complex mix of child, family and environmental influences. Temperament and behaviour are two of the child factors that have been linked to later social competence and well being. In this article, the authors examine how children's characteristics, their temperament and behaviour, and the 'fit' between parent and child from early in life, might influence social competence in late childhood, at eleven to twelve years of age.

The learning of social skills and socially acceptable behaviours is one of the most important tasks of childhood. Children's social competence is the outcome of a complex mix of child, family and environmental influences. Temperament and behaviour are two of the child factors that have been linked to later social competence and well being. In this article, the authors examine how children's characteristics, their temperament and behaviour, and the 'fit' between parent and child from early in life, might influence social competence in late childhood, at eleven to twelve years of age.

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