Magazine article USA TODAY

What Are Children Most Afraid Of?

Magazine article USA TODAY

What Are Children Most Afraid Of?

Article excerpt

Boys fear snakes, monsters, and scary theme park rides more than girls do, while girls fear thunderstorms and the dark more than boys. Ohio State University, Columbus, researchers examined the fears and anxieties of 86 children eight to 12 years old and found that the boys harbored fears related to animals, supernatural phenomena, and safety, while the girls tended to fear natural phenomena.

The researchers evaluated the youngsters in several ways, conducting individual interviews, having them fill out questionnaires, and asking each child to draw a picture of a human figure. The researchers looked at the drawings for any of 38 specific characteristics--called emotional indicators--that could reflect anxiety, concerns, and attitudes. The more prevalent the indicators, the higher the anxiety level should be. Some of the emotional indicators in the pictures include shading of the body or limbs, omitting prominent body parts, crossed eyes, and a tiny or extremely large head.

"Because children may not have the words to express that they're afraid or worried, characteristics appearing in human-figure drawings can reveal some forms of serious anxiety," notes Nancy Ryan-Wenger, professor of community, parent-child, and psychiatric nursing. …

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