The ‘middle years’, or early adolescence (8–14 years), of a child’s life are a period of key developments in sexual maturity, the brain, social and emotional cognition and self-awareness. During the middle years, the influence of peer relationships on a young person’s social and emotional development also begins to intensify. Australian research indicates that although friendships are important to young people in this age group, they can also be a source of anxiety and stress. Therefore, it is important to understand what factors influence peer relationships in the middle years to be able to better support young people’s mental health, development and wellbeing.
This short article summarises key findings from a systematic review by Mitic and colleagues (2021) that looked at the determinants of supportive peer relationships in early adolescence.