Investigating Practice in Responding to Fear in Early Childhood Contexts

Year: 2000

Author: SORIN, R

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation is based on my research into children's emotions, which focused on the emotion of fear. Fear is named by nearly all theorists as a basic or innate emotion. While it motivates us to defend ourselves and avoid dangerous situations (Izard, 1977; Ledoux, 1998), it can also limit memory (Darke, 1988), perception and problem-solving abilities (Izard, 1977, 1991), impair social interactions (Dodge, 1991) and threaten the sense of self (Lazarus, 1991)

Young children are expected to learn to understand and to exhibit fear and other emotions in socially appropriate ways. Forms of "emotional literacy", these skills effect success or failure in learning and in life in general (Goleman, 1995). The concept of multiple intelligences recognises interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, and early childhood guidelines include emotional and social learning, yet curricula mainly address the cognitive domain.

This presentation examines teachers' understandings of young children's fears and their practices that facilitate understanding and expression of this and other emotions. It challenges practitioners to reflect upon their own awareness and responses to affective situations and to determine how they can best implement an affective curriculum.