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 Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>