Background: There is mounting evidence of the presence of chronic stress among children during primary school: girls and boys under the age of 15 years often experience anxiety, irritability and sleeping problems with negative consequences on scholastic climate and the spread of bullying and dropping out of school. The promotion of emotion regulation within school environment through innovative didactic methodologies represents a valuable tool for teachers and parents to reduce emotional distress and associated risk behaviours and to promote wellbeing. Aim: Our research aims to explore the psychological and biological consequences of teaching emotional training in an experimental group of Italian Primary School children. Methods: A sample of pupils (81 children aged between 6 and 8) was divided into an experimental group (33 subjects) and a control group (30 subjects). A further advanced group of 18 subjects, who have experienced the method in the previous school year, was also included. The experimental study lasted one school year (from October 2021 to May 2022). The following psychological tests were administered to all groups: TEC (Test of Emotion Comprehension) to measure the children's different emotional abilities and the Projective test (PT) 'A person in the rain', to identify the coping skills of children in a stressful condition. Morning salivary cortisol, IL-6 and TNF-alpha assays were conducted in all three groups. Psychological and biological tests were administered at the beginning of the study and at the end of the study. Results: The MR-Anova model for TEC score showed that there was not a significant group effect [Fgroup = 2.24, p = 0.114]. Pairwise comparisons showed that mean score significantly increased only in the Experimental group (pB < 0.001) and at the end of the project there was a significant difference between Experimental group and Control group (pB = 0.012). The mean score of PT test increased significantly from baseline to the end of the project for the Experimental group (pB < 0.001) and for the Advanced group (pB = 0.004). At the end of the project, there were significant differences between the Experimental group and the Control group (pB = 0.004) and between the Advanced group and the Control group (pB < 0.001). Salivary cortisol analysis revealed a significant effect between subjects [Fgroup = 9.66; p < 0.001] and significant effects within subjects with the main effect of the time [Ftime = 35.41; p < 0.001] and the significant interaction “time x group” [Ftimexgroup = 3.38; p = 0.040]. Pairwise comparisons showed that cortisol levels decreased significantly over time only in the Experimental group (pB < 0.001). Regarding to IL-6 levels, there was not a significant effect between subjects [Fgroups = 0.0481; p = 0.953]. The mean level decreased significantly for each group from baseline to post project (pB < 0.001). With respect to TNF-alpha levels, the mean levels decreased over time for all groups (pB = 0.006 for Experimental group; pB < 0.001 either for the Advanced or Control group). Conclusion: the results documented in the experimental groups who experienced didactics of emotion for at least one school year show a significant increase in children's ability to cope with reality, stress and anxiety, and an improvement of their emotional competence. Meanwhile, a significant reduction in the amount of salivary cortisol was observed in the experimental group at the end of the scholastic year; meantime a stable reduced amount of salivary cortisol in advanced group throughout the project was also observed. These findings show that an intervention through an emotional education program is able to regulate interpersonal skills and the stress axis response.

Empathy at school project: Effects of didactics of emotions® on emotional competence, cortisol secretion and inflammatory profile in primary school children. A controlled longitudinal psychobiological study

Bottaccioli A. G.;Bologna M.;Muzi P.;Necozione S.;Cofini V.;Cuomo M.;Bottaccioli F.
2023-01-01

Abstract

Background: There is mounting evidence of the presence of chronic stress among children during primary school: girls and boys under the age of 15 years often experience anxiety, irritability and sleeping problems with negative consequences on scholastic climate and the spread of bullying and dropping out of school. The promotion of emotion regulation within school environment through innovative didactic methodologies represents a valuable tool for teachers and parents to reduce emotional distress and associated risk behaviours and to promote wellbeing. Aim: Our research aims to explore the psychological and biological consequences of teaching emotional training in an experimental group of Italian Primary School children. Methods: A sample of pupils (81 children aged between 6 and 8) was divided into an experimental group (33 subjects) and a control group (30 subjects). A further advanced group of 18 subjects, who have experienced the method in the previous school year, was also included. The experimental study lasted one school year (from October 2021 to May 2022). The following psychological tests were administered to all groups: TEC (Test of Emotion Comprehension) to measure the children's different emotional abilities and the Projective test (PT) 'A person in the rain', to identify the coping skills of children in a stressful condition. Morning salivary cortisol, IL-6 and TNF-alpha assays were conducted in all three groups. Psychological and biological tests were administered at the beginning of the study and at the end of the study. Results: The MR-Anova model for TEC score showed that there was not a significant group effect [Fgroup = 2.24, p = 0.114]. Pairwise comparisons showed that mean score significantly increased only in the Experimental group (pB < 0.001) and at the end of the project there was a significant difference between Experimental group and Control group (pB = 0.012). The mean score of PT test increased significantly from baseline to the end of the project for the Experimental group (pB < 0.001) and for the Advanced group (pB = 0.004). At the end of the project, there were significant differences between the Experimental group and the Control group (pB = 0.004) and between the Advanced group and the Control group (pB < 0.001). Salivary cortisol analysis revealed a significant effect between subjects [Fgroup = 9.66; p < 0.001] and significant effects within subjects with the main effect of the time [Ftime = 35.41; p < 0.001] and the significant interaction “time x group” [Ftimexgroup = 3.38; p = 0.040]. Pairwise comparisons showed that cortisol levels decreased significantly over time only in the Experimental group (pB < 0.001). Regarding to IL-6 levels, there was not a significant effect between subjects [Fgroups = 0.0481; p = 0.953]. The mean level decreased significantly for each group from baseline to post project (pB < 0.001). With respect to TNF-alpha levels, the mean levels decreased over time for all groups (pB = 0.006 for Experimental group; pB < 0.001 either for the Advanced or Control group). Conclusion: the results documented in the experimental groups who experienced didactics of emotion for at least one school year show a significant increase in children's ability to cope with reality, stress and anxiety, and an improvement of their emotional competence. Meanwhile, a significant reduction in the amount of salivary cortisol was observed in the experimental group at the end of the scholastic year; meantime a stable reduced amount of salivary cortisol in advanced group throughout the project was also observed. These findings show that an intervention through an emotional education program is able to regulate interpersonal skills and the stress axis response.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/202699
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