Images of the Elderly in Preschoolers and Their Parents
Introduction. The paper analyses the representations of old people by the preschoolers. The changing demographic situation of the society stimulates a study of contemporary relationship between generations. Some studies reveal stereotypes and discrimination of an old subject by small children. The nature of this phenomenon and factors influencing it are contradictory and not clear.
The objective of the study is to reveal and to analyze interrelations between the elderly images in preschoolers with those of their parents. We supposed that the image of the elderly in older preschoolers depends on stereotyped parents’ representations of the elderly and on the quality and accessibility of child’s relationship with grandparents.
Study design. 67 child-parents dyads including 67 preschoolers aged from five to six years (56.7% of girls and 43.3% of boys) and 67 parents aged from 23 till 59 years (85.1% of mothers and 14.9% of fathers) took part in the study. We used the method of projective drawing for children and a questionary together with association test for parents. The questionary was aimed to precise the social and demographic state of the parents and the ancestors, the type of the family from the point of view of participation of grandparents in the care and upbringing of children, relationship of children and grandparents and parents’ opinions about the need for participation of grandparents in children upbringing.
Results. (1) The study of parents proved, that a positive or negative image of an old person is manifested via the dynamic system of health/disease, preservation or not preservation of functional abilities and life competence. A neutral image is represented through inclusion in the new state of a retired and an ancestor. (2) The study of children proved that the quality of communication with grandparents determines the emotional component in elderly and old subject image. A limited or absent communication results in emotionally neutral and personally not valuable image. (3) We did not reveal the influence of parents’ stereotyped images on children.
Conclusions. (1) A positive aging images and an efficient communication of children with ancestors form a basis for positive image of elderly and of an old subject by small children. (2) Children experience of “sufficient” communication with grandparents actualizes predominantly the emotional aspect of communication in the image of an old subject. (3) Children with deficient communication with grandparents represent an image of an old subject as somebody else or nobody’ person, and accentuate psychophysiological deficits. (4) Preschoolers can have own representations of elderly not identic to parents or surrounding people or social stereotypes.