School-related fears, coping strategies and relationships in italian children: a projective study

Author/s Michele Capurso, Valerio Santangelo
Publishing Year 2013 Issue 2011/4
Language Italian Pages 37 P. 435-471 File size 819 KB
DOI 10.3280/RIP2011-004002
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Starting from studies that identified several fears accounted as normal for developing children, here we specifically investigated school fears, along with helping relationships and coping strategies, in 1931 children from different Italian regions. School fears were investigated by means of a projective tool designed ad hoc. Children’s responses were then analysed with an induction procedure. χ2 test was used to highlight frequencies of responses that significantly differed from chance. The aim was to understand whether school fears resembled normal developing fears, as we had hypothesized. At the same time, we evaluated coping strategies and helping relationships within the Italian school context. Our results showed that in most cases, fears were selectively connected with the school context, and, more specifically, with the fear of getting a bad mark or being bullied. Peers were identified more often than parents as sources of support and help in overcoming fears. The most frequent coping strategies were based on active/cognitive processes, along with the search for emotional support and communication. For the youngest children, we also observed a significant increase of a coping strategy not reported in previous literature, i.e., play. These results allow us to claim that school fears involved two specific categories (fear of a bad mark or an aggression, such as being bullied). This is in line with the literature on normal developing fears. Other forms of normal developing fears, such as ancestral fears, were also observed in the present research, above all for the youngest children. The coping strategies indicated by children and the choice of their peers when in need of help allow us to conclude that Italian children appear to be able to functionally face their everyday school difficulties.

Keywords: Children, school, fear, coping, helping relationship, play

Michele Capurso, Valerio Santangelo, Paure verso la scuola, coping e relazione di aiuto nei bambini italiani: una ricerca proiettiva in "RICERCHE DI PSICOLOGIA " 4/2011, pp 435-471, DOI: 10.3280/RIP2011-004002