“Hold On To Your Kids”–Chapter 17

This chapter is entitled “Don’t Court The Competition”  and talks about how a child having friends/peers is NOT the enemy, it is peer ORIENTATION that is the enemy.  That is a large difference!

I liked this quote found on the first page of this chapter:  “…today’s parents and teachers view early and extensive peer interaction in a positive light.  We encourage it, unaware of the risks that arise when such interaction occurs without adult leadership and input.  We fail to distinguish between peer relationships formed under the  conscious and benign guidance of adults and peer contacts occurring in attachment voids.”

The authors have a list in this chapter to help parents avoid the problem of peer orientation:

1.  “Don’t be fooled by the first fruits of peer orientation” – ie, it is wonderful to have children entertain each other, and the authors point out that a child who is used to peers will go to school and learn more easily at first because they are used to other children and not anxious about being with other children, away from family  but how later on, the negative effects of peer orientation really kicks in.  “In the first days of school in kindergarten, a peer-oriented child would appear smarter, more confident and better able to benefit from the school experience.  The parent-oriented child, impaired by separation anxiety would, by contrast, appear to be less adept and capable – at least until he can form a good attachment to the teacher…..In the long term, of course, the positive effects on learning of reduced anxiety and disorientation will gradually be canceled by the negative effects of peer orientation.  Thus follows the research evidence that early advantages of preschool education are not sustainable over time.”

Carrie’s note – I don’t think anyone in the mainstream media of the US are aware of the research studies regarding preschool!  Do you?

I also want to throw a note in here:  I see some homeschooled families who really isolate themselves in the Early Years.  Being home does not mean not interacting with neighbors, it does not preclude being involved with your place of worship, your extended family, etc.  It does mean around the age of five, if you have not before, there should be short playdates that are STRUCTURED.  It does mean that by age 7, most children can operate in a small group setting without falling apart, even the boys that could not do this before.  Social skills do have value! 

If you have a very socially anxious child, I think this is a great thing to work on in the six year old kindergarten year, starting small, being steady and fully present and structuring things.  The world needs to open up a bit around six if it has not already. 

Friendships become increasingly important headed into the nine year change and I feel parents who have not worked on this at all, ie, no social opportunieis for their children at all, are doing their children a disservice.

And again, this is all my opinion so take what resonates with you for your family.

2.  “Shyness is not the problem we think it is” – “Adult-oriented children are much slower to lose their shyness around their peers.”  Psychological maturity is what eventually tempers shyness.

Carrie’s note:  Again, though, I think there is a difference between shyness and anxiety.

3. “The stress of day care in the absence of attachment. “

4.  “Getting along with others does not arise from peer contact.” -   “Many parents seek playgroups for their toddlers.  By the preschool age, arranging peer contacts for our children has often become an obsession. …The belief is that socializing – children spending time with one another- begets socialization:  the capacity for skillful and mature relating to other human beings.  There is no evidence to support such an assumption despite its popularity.”

A very interesting section.

5.  “It is not friends that children need.” -  “Until children are capable of true friendship, they really do not need friends, just attachments.”

6.  “Peers are not the answer to boredom.”  Also a good section. 

The authors are careful to point out at the end of the chapter that their intent is not to tell parents that children should not have friends, but that parents should view play time with children as fun, and that’s it and that we should connect with our children after every peer interaction.  They go on with sections regarding peers not being the answer to eccentricity, and how peers cannot be relied upon to sustain a child’s self esteem, and how peers are NOT the same as siblings and how a more appropriate substitution for siblings in the case of an only child are not peers, but cousins.  A very interesting section!

Did you like this chapter?  Thoughts?

Many blessings,


13 thoughts on ““Hold On To Your Kids”–Chapter 17

  1. “We fail to distinguish between peer relationships formed under the conscious and benign guidance of adults and peer contacts occurring in attachment voids.”

    That phrase – attachment void – is so strong. It really struck me tonight.

    What if a close cousin is growing up in an “attachment void”? What about family members – whose lives we want to be a part of despite different parenting styles? Do you have a post on your wonderful blog about parenting gracefully when those around us have different perspectives on parenting (especially at family gatherings)?

    Thank you so much for your thoughts, Carrie.

    • Zane,
      I will have to write something I think! But, if a cousin is close, you are family, and perhaps the attachment void is filled not by the parents but by other members of the extended family. 🙂 So much of parenting is sort of proof is in the pudding as children grow and mature, and then, gosh your way was not so incredibly crazy after all because look at how wonderfully those children turned out…And, some of it is just boundaries: Grandma, you raised your children, you did great, I am not knocking what you did in the past but this is what I am doing. Case closed.
      Lots to ponder there…

  2. hi
    Im new to your site and finding all kinds of wonderful information. BUT– Im just wondering which book you are reffering to in these last few posts (maybe Im missing the obvious!! but I cant find it anywhere!!)
    I am expecting (33 weeks) and the mamma of a 1.5 yr old girl. Since reading back posts Im feeling more confident over having recently switched from being the traditional no no no-er to the ignore and re-direct type parent.

    Its hard as she is in this stage where everything bad is SO funny (especially when its dangerous!!) and I suspect this is coming from my tired mamma reactions to all of those things!! any advice on back posts or literature that would be helpful for wee ones…. soon to be big sisters!?

    thank you for your site and any advice you may be able to offer!


  3. Hi Carrie,
    While I agree with the spirit of this post, I have to disagree slightly with the timing you suggest for socialising. My understanding is children who do not spend enough time with their age mates from the age of three and a half to four years are more likely to develop something called dyssemia, than others. This is the inability to read non-verbal cues. If children do not spend enough time with their peers at this crucial stage (I am NOT saying without Mum around) they are likely to miss developing a solid understanding of the social cues we all need in order to mix properly with others, and the effects can be traumatic and last into adulthood.
    Great attachment to Mum DOES need to come first (and reconnection afterwards) we certainly don’t want a void of attachment, and I am cautious to the setting the socialising takes place – but after the parallel play stage ends, socialising is important and there is lots of research to support this need.
    If you are interested in reading more you could go here:

    Best wishes,

  4. Hi Carrie,

    ‘I don’t think anyone in the mainstream media of the US are aware of the research studies regarding preschool!’

    I was just wondering what the research shows? I haven’t come across anything that mentions preschool being a negative experience for a child.

    Also – when you refer to ‘structured play-dates’ what exactly do you mean?

    One last question! I just wondered if you had any posts on unplugging and what you can do with preschoolers instead of watching TV. We only watch films or programmes like Sesame Street, (we don’t have terrestrial television at all) but I admit, I am worried about how much movie watching is going on at the moment. The trouble is, I don’t know how to get anything done in the house (or, parent my little boy to sleep!) if my 4-year old isn’t occupied. If she’s not watching a movie, she keeps coming into the room and waking up her little brother, or she deliberately makes lots of noise and bounces around etc. Any thoughts? Posts?


    • Hi Kat — I think if you go back through the posts about the four year olds, you may find some help there about integrating a four year old into the practical work of the home. This is the heart of living with small children; what they learn to do with their hands with you is what they will they will be able to do when they leave your home….The post on the three and four year old in the Waldorf home should help you. Structured playdates are playdates where the children come and the adults do some work – bake bread and the children take turns kneading, make gingerbread, plant something in the garden – where adults model taking turns and such before the children go off to just play. It helps set the stage.
      I hope this answer helps.
      Many blessings,

  5. It’s good to see the issue of early years ‘socialisation’ addressed – I have come across the attitude many times, spoken outright, that children (especially boys) of 6 months old onwards (!) need to go to nursery to socialise them, and been looked at oddly for not agreeing.

  6. I agreed with a lot of this chapter, but I didn’t fully agree with the description of the ‘attached’ child being shy and the ‘peer-attached’ child being outgoing at school. A child being shy or outgoing in a school or other social setting is also influenced by temperament, I think. Practically from birth, my son has been a very social, extroverted child who warms up quickly and easily to new people and new surroundings. The book seems to suggest that I should be worried or upset that my son isn’t more shy and retiring, and see this as evidence that he is peer-oriented. I actually think it is evidence that he feels secure in his attachments to his family.

  7. Hi Carrie,
    I loved reading this it makes alot of sense to me. You have probably put it somewhere, so forgive for asking but what is the name of the book? I love your web-site thank you for putting your thoughts etc down to inspire.

    • The book is “Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Kids” by Neufeld and Mate.
      Many blessings,

  8. I loved the chapter. my 8 year old is very focused on peers and we really did think that was great-so good at socializing, so good at getting along with others, great that he can be entertained with friends, etc….. however, we are seeing some of what Neufeld talks about.. an increase in saying he is bored when not with friends, the constant need to have friends over, the lack of seeming enjoyment at just being with us as family. We have consciously reduced his peer time since reading this book and it really has made a difference. While his temperament is still outgoing and social, and certainly he wasn’t liking us too much when we said no to inviting friends over, after a little time, we see him using his own imagination more, enjoying family time more and overall, just looking more for us to meet his needs, rather than friends. I always say the title of the book isn’t “why peers should not matter…” it is why they shouldn’t matter MORE than parents.. I think that is a big difference. My little one is social for sure, but now, in a balance that I think it better for him.

  9. Wow, this one is really making me struggle. I have an only child, a 4-3/4 year old boy. We live far away from family, including cousins, so we don’t really have the options you and book suggest. My child loves playing with his friends, and I love it because it takes the pressure off of me to play with him. Why the pressure? Well, he’s very much a BOY. He wants to run around outside, bang things with sticks, play “good guys and bad guys” — all things I REALLY don’t enjoy. He spends plenty of time playing by himself, but he also loves to play with his friends. Suggestions? Perspectives? What’s the mom of an only child to do?

    • Kim,
      I don’t think it is bad that he wants to play with his peers; remember the premise of this chapter is that peers are not a problem but peer orientation can be, especially as a child gets older.
      Many blessings,

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