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Vulnerable children in kindergarten

Klara Øverland has in her PhD looked at daycare employee experiences with children who experience separation.

Øverland also looked at what measures employees use and how they react when the children's parents are separated. In her thesis, titled "Children of divorce in daycare. Exploring Subjective experiences among daycare staff and children overusing Q methodology, " Øverland has examined the children's own experiences after divorce.

Need for procedures
The findings show two main views among nursery staff regarding the child's feelings or reactions after breakups. Some staff experienced various problems among children, as they were upset, frustrated or lost concentration during tasks. Other employees had relatively confident in that the procedures in the nursery helped many of the children manage after breakup, but they experienced also sadness among children.

Some of the staff felt they coped with the work of separation, while others had trouble dealing with it. The employees work differently when it comes to children and families who were experienced breakups and Øverland therefore concludes that there is a need for better procedures and measures for this work.

The study of children showed three main views among the five year olds that participated. A group of children expressed safe relationships, happy feelings. Another group showed mixed emotions and a third group showed sadness and were concerned by their parents sadness.

Recommended education about breakups
Øverland believes nursery staff is in a unique position to identify problems and help children after divorce, since they have daily care for them. She recommends that students and staff are educated in topics related to divorce, such as reactions and measures that can help the children. It is also important to help nursery staff so they can deal with the work of separation and parental conflict.

Klara Øverland is cand.polit from NTNU in Trondheim and cand.psych from the University of Copenhagen. She works at the National Centre for learning and behavioral research (Learning Center) at the University of Stavanger and the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinic, Stavanger University Hospital.

Klara Øverland defended her thesis on the 1. Of March 2013.

Text: Elin Nyberg