Research note: young children's resolution of distress through play

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1984 Jul;25(3):477-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.1984.tb00165.x.


It has been suggested that play is important to the young child as a means of resolving a distressing experience. Pre-school children were observed as they exhibited distress on the first day of school. High- and low-anxiety children were allowed either the opportunity for free play or participation in a story-reading session, each of which was performed in either the presence or absence of peers. The anxious children in the play condition were found to decrease in distress and their play was more solitary and imaginative in nature compared to other conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety, Separation / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Psychology, Child