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Preschool Children's Experience and Understanding of Their Soundscape

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Noise may be a serious health problem in preschools. This article explores how preschool-aged children experience, understand, and cope with the soundscape at their preschools. Using a qualitative approach, 36 children (4–6 years old) were interviewed in 11 focus groups. The children related their experience of sound to the consequences the sound had for themselves, their understanding of its source, and their bodily and emotional experience of it. Their perceived trustfulness, comprehensibility, sound descriptions, and manageability of given sounds were interpreted in the model as an expression of uncontrollability. The degree of uncontrollability of sounds accounted for whether children were nondisturbed, disturbed, or distressed by their experience of it. Distressing noise was experienced as both physically and emotionally painful. The children handled such distress by flight, attempting to reduce the hearing sensation, turning to their teachers, and using cognitive strategies. It is important to increase our understanding of how children cope with distressing sounds at preschools.
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Keywords: adverse effects; child; focus groups; grounded theory; noise; preschool; stress

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Gothenburg, Sweden 2: Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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