However, children and adolescents may lack the maturity required to differentiate and indentify desirable personality traits. As they tend to trust peer remarks and place more importance on peer compliments and criticism, they might try to develop a set of personality traits perceived as desirable within their peer group. This set of characteristics may even serve as a unique identifier that bonds the social group as one. While the sense of belonging may be an esteem-booster, this alignment of personality traits can pose significant problems for members of minority groups who, in the near future, learn that their group, and therefore their identity, is negatively valued in the wider society (Branthwaite & Rogers, 1985).
Some argue that siblings’ support and family background affect one’s self-esteem and self-image (Milevsky, 2005). Yet, the time children and adolescents spend with their peer groups as well as the trust and newly-formed attachment enhances the role of peer groups. In fact, at times of vulnerability when they are faced with much stress and seemingly incessant workload, they are more likely to turn to their peers who experience similar circumstances. This is especially prominent among female adolescents (Welch & Houser, 2010). As such, peer groups play an imperative supportive feature in shaping an individual’s self-valuation and social capability due to the large amount of time spent together and the importance placed by children and adolescents on peer remarks.
The second crucial role of the peer group is the provision of emotional security under unprecedented or threatening situations (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2009). Even a simple presence of a peer without verbal communication or physical contact may provide reassurance and boost confidence. This is especially significant during late childhood and early adolescence when greater transitions take place, and is equally pronounced in both genders (Ammaniti et al, 2010). This can have important implications as to whether children are willing to explore a new environment, try new behaviour and take risks as typically associated with growth (Chien et al, 2011).