Note:  Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Susanne Viernickel, Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin Alice-Salomon-Platz, 5, 12627 Berlin, Germany. Email: [email protected]
Abstract: This study examined naturally occurring toddler peer interactions by means of assessing formal attributes as well as their content. We specifically investigated meanings or topics that toddlers can share in interactions. Twenty-three target children (17-23 months, 11 female) were videotaped for one hour in free-play situations in their daycare groups in Berlin, Germany. An observational coding-system identified 825 dyadic interaction units and determined the duration, the contexts, object involvement, reach of a shared meaning, and the specific themes. Twenty-four shared meanings or themes could be identified and were condensed to three social topics in early peer interaction: play, socializing and conflict. Associations between interaction frequencies, formal aspects of the interactions, social topics and characteristics of the interacting children (age, sex, duration of peer group membership, friendship status and readiness to start interaction) are reported. Results showed that not only characteristics of the target children, but also characteristics of the interacting dyads accounted for differences in the interaction process and content.
Keywords: peer interaction, peer relations, early childcare, toddlers, social competence