2014 Volume 81 Issue 4 Pages 436-447
In this study, behaviors of early childhood teachers in nursery centers were compared with those of elementary, junior high and high school teachers discussed in previous studies with respect to the way they express and suppress emotions toward children/students. The practical significance of the result is also discussed.
A documentary film, Yomogi Dango Jiken (“The Mugwort Dumpling Incident”), set at Osaka Atom Day Care, Japan, was shown on TV (NHK) in 2003; it was used in this study as a stimulus medium to induce spontaneous answers from six early childhood teachers who were the subjects of a “focus group interview”. The model of this study was the research conducted by Tobin (1989).
The results revealed the following points: 1) When early childhood teachers dealt with children’s interior lives, empathy was consciously suppressed and a neutral expression was mainly shown. Such emotional suppression was also indicated in elementary, junior high and high school teachers. The difference between these two groups was, however, that early childhood teachers suppressed their emotional expressions in order to motivate children’s independent behavior, while elementary, junior high and high school teachers suppressed their emotions in order to maintain their systematized authoritative influence toward students. 2) Intentional emotional suppression was seen in both groups: early childhood teachers used this technique to motivate children while elementary, junior high and high school teachers used it to control their classroom atmosphere. The striking difference between the two groups were that the varying emotional control of elementary, junior high and high school teachers was used to avoid any stagnation in classroom activities, while that of early childhood teachers was used to let children decide on their actions, even if that caused a temporary stagnation.
The results showed that emotional suppression in early childhood teachers has the practical significance of allowing children to learn to be independent in a real-life setting.