ERIC Number: ED307995
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Playing with Fear: Children's Play and Its Role in Expressing Fears.
Heibeck, Tracy H.
Preschool children's fears of animals and the dark were investigated in an effort to examine how preschoolers use play as a medium for expressing fearful emotions. A total of 48 children participated in the study. Interviews with parents were used to identify 12 preschoolers who were anxious about the dark and 12 who were anxious about dogs; 24 children were rated by parents as not being anxious about these experiences. Each child was invited to create stories about topics suggested by the experimenter. Some topics included benign themes popular in children's play; other themes reflected fears of dogs and darkness. Each child's videotaped play session was coded by three independent judges on measures assessing the maturity, duration, imaginativeness, aggression, concentration of play, and other factors. Children who were anxious about dogs played less constructively and at a less mature level in regards to that topic than did children not anxious about dogs. But children anxious about the dark were able to engage in well-developed pretend play when playing about benign themes and about the dark. These children tended to include more aggression in their play, especially when the story involved the dark. It is suggested that findings have implications for the use of play in therapy with children. (Author/RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (Kansas City, MO, April 27-30, 1989).