Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Children stressed 6 months before starting school

04.09.2007
The first few days at school can be an anxious time as children face the challenge of a new environment and making new friends but according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, children show signs of stress three to six months before term even starts.

The researchers, led by Dr Julie Turner-Cobb at the University of Bath, were studying the effect of children’s temperament and behaviour on how stressful they found the experience of starting school.

To do this, they measured the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in children two weeks after they had started primary school and then measured them again six months later. They also took cortisol measurements three to six months before the children started school to provide baseline levels for comparison.

But the researchers were surprised to find that, far from providing a baseline, children’s cortisol levels were already high several months before the start of the school term. “This suggests that stress levels in anticipation of starting school begin to rise much earlier than we expected”, says Dr Turner-Cobb.

Why a preschool child should be anxious about an event so far in the future is something of a mystery but Dr Turner-Cobb speculates that parents were getting stressed about their children starting school and that their stress was being passed on to the children.

Whilst there was a significant rise in cortisol levels at the start of school as expected, children with a more shy, fearful personality appeared less stressed than their more extrovert peers.

“More extroverted children had consistently higher levels of cortisol and their levels tended to remain high throughout the day, possibly because their more impulsive nature gets them into more confrontational situations”, Dr Turner-Cobb explains.

One of the concerns surrounding cortisol is that high levels, particularly when they remain high throughout the day, can suppress an individual’s immune response making them more susceptible to everyday illnesses.

But in this study, the researchers found that children who had higher levels of cortisol throughout the day when starting school were actually less likely to suffer from cold symptoms during the next six months and had fewer days off sick if they did catch a cold.

They also found that these children were more likely to get sick during the school holidays than at term time suggesting that, at least in the short-term, higher stress levels provide some protection against colds and flu.

For most children, stress levels had lowered significantly at the six months follow-up, suggesting that they had adapted well to the school environment. As Dr Turner-Cobb is keen to emphasise, this temporary stress response to starting school is natural and experiences such as this help shape a child’s ability to cope with new and potentially threatening situations through life.

However, some children still had high cortisol levels throughout the day at follow-up, suggesting that they were experiencing a more long-term stress response that could lead to poorer health. These children were more extroverted but had also become increasingly socially isolated during the study, perhaps because their peers had lost patience with their exuberance.

According to Dr Turner-Cobb, this highlights the importance of monitoring the experiences of children starting school, particularly those who seem to find the school environment more of a social challenge.

Given the unexpected high levels of cortisol months in advance of the start of term, Dr Turner-Cobb also suggests that parents may need more support to reduce their anxiety about the experience of school transition, so benefiting the health and social well-being of the child.

Danielle Moore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>