Nighttime Fears and Fantasy–Reality Differentiation in Preschool Children
- 968 Downloads
Nighttime fears are very common in preschool years. During these years, children’s fantasy–reality differentiation undergoes significant development. Our study was aimed at exploring the links between nighttime fears and fantasy–reality differentiation in preschool children. Eighty children (aged: 4–6 years) suffering from severe nighttime fears were compared with 32 non-fearful controls. Fears were assessed using child and parental reports. Children viewed images depicting fantastic or real entities and situations, and were asked to report whether these were imaginary or could occur in real life. The results revealed that children with nighttime fears demonstrated more fantasy–reality confusion compared to their controls. These differences in fantasy–reality differentiation were more pronounced in younger children. Additional significant associations were found between fantasy–reality differentiation and age and specific characteristics of the stimuli. These preliminary findings, suggesting a developmental delay in fantasy–reality differentiation in children with nighttime fears, have significant theoretical and clinical implications.
KeywordsNighttime fears Anxiety Preschool Child Fantasy Reality
The study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1047/08 to Avi Sadeh). The authors are thankful to Ornit Arbel for coordinating and managing the study and to the participating families.
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflict of interest to report.
- 3.Muris P (2007) Normal and abnormal fear and anxiety in children and adolescents. Elsevier Science & Technology, BostonGoogle Scholar
- 10.King NJ, Hamilton DI, Ollendick TH (1988) Children’s phobias: a behavioral perspective. Wiley, ChicehsterGoogle Scholar
- 37.Muris P, Schmidt H, Merckelbach H (2000) Correlations among two self-report questionnaires for measuring DSM-defined anxiety disorder symptoms in children: the screen for child anxiety related emotional disorders and the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale. Pers Individ Differ 28:333–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 39.Achenbach TM, Edelbrock CS (1983) Manual for the child behavior checklist and revised child behavior profile. University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry, BurlingtonGoogle Scholar
- 40.Zilber N, Auerbach J, Lerner Y (1994) Israeli norms for the Achenbach child-behavior checklist—comparison of clinically-referred and non-referred children. Israel J Psychiatry Relat Sci 31:5–12Google Scholar
- 42.Piaget J (1930) The construction of reality in the child. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- 47.Kushnir J, Sadeh A (2012) Assessment of brief interventions for nighttime fears in preschool children. Eur J Pediatr 171:67–75Google Scholar