The present study sought to inquire into the subjective experience of 156 preschoolers (age 4–6.9 years) living in an area of political violence in Israel (on the border with the Gaza Strip) during a period of massive bombing. Children were invited to draw a Person Picking an Apple from a Tree (PPAT), and were interviewed on their sense of self-potency using the CAMP, a measure of potency. Teachers were asked to report problems in executive functions using a few BRIEF scales; and mothers filled out a questionnaire for maternal distress (BSI), a measure of their child strengths and difficulties (SDQ), and were asked to provide their assessment regarding the extent to which their child was exposed to political violence. Findings reveal associations between mothers’ distress, the degree of exposure of their child to trauma, and the child’s emotional symptoms. PPAT analysis identified four main factors: Tree Generosity, Person Agency, Vividness, and As-Real-R. Positive associations were found between self-potency and the main factors of the drawings; negative associations were found between the child’s difficulties in executive functions and the drawing’s four main factors; and two small negative associations were found between the child’s emotional symptoms and Tree Generosity and As-Real-R factors. The following associations were found within each gender group: mothers’ depression degree was associated with boy’s Tree Generosity, and mother’s perceptions of their girl’s exposure to trauma was related to Person Agency, Tree Generosity, and As-Real-R factors; furthermore, a significant difference was found between the narrative focus of drawings in this sample and the narrative focus of drawings of a sample of the same age group from a non-war zone. In addition, narrative focus was found to be related to children’s self-potency. The discussion deals with the study’s findings through the prism of developmental psychology, self-agency, object-relations, and art-therapy theories.
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- maternal distress
- political violence
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health