Children`s Fears and Coping Strategies: a Comparative Perspective



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The aims of the dissertation were: firstly, give a theoretical overview about fear concept, children’s fears and coping, the role of significant others (e.g. family) and some background factors (e.g. age, gender, SES, etc.) in children’s fears; secondly, analyse differences in preschool children’s fears and coping strategies over the ten years by comparison of two studies (1993 and 2002); thirdly, find out the impact of children’s gender on their fears and coping strategies; fourthly, analyse the agreement about children’s fears between two informants’(i.e. children’s and parents’ assessments) and fifthly, analyse the impact of some background factors and parental role in provoking children’s fears. Overall, six hypotheses were generated on the basis of theoretical literature and previous studies and all of them were confirmed. Fear was selected as the one of the indicators of children’s insecurity. The sample consisted of two informants’ groups, parents and their preschool age children who were selected randomly. We used parents’ questionnaire and children’s interview which included three main parts (question about child’s social network, semi-structured and picture-aided parts) as research methodology. The first study was conducted in 1993 and was repeated in 2002. The main findings and results are following: (1) children’s fears are different over the ten years. The most dramatic difference proved to be the increase of imagination related fears including the fears of television, imagined creatures and nightmares. Also the huge amount of several self-reported fears is noteworthy; (2) social fears and fears of bodily injury have been expressed by preschool children at quite a high level, particularly in picture-aided interview. Both of these fear categories have been thought to first appear mainly in school age; (3) children reported several coping ways with fears, more in 2002 than in 1993 study. It is important to point out the significant increase of cognitive coping ways in 2002 study, which were not mentioned in 1993 study; (4) agreement between two informants, children and parents was low which is in concordance with several previous studies. It is clear that young children can already be good informants for their problems/fears and should be considered as primary informants in child research; (5) parents themselves can induce children’s fears by the use of fear as socialization mean; (6) the unique methodology developed in our project and used in these two



children, fear, coping, security, comparative, lapsed, hirm, toimetulek, turvalisus, võrdlev