EFFECTS OF METHODICAL DESENSITISATION AND TOKEN ECONOMY ON SEPARATION ANXIETY OF JUNIOUR SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS IN ZARIA CITY, NIGERIA

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EFFECTS OF METHODICAL DESENSITISATION AND TOKEN ECONOMY ON SEPARATION ANXIETY OF JUNIOUR SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS IN ZARIA CITY, NIGERIA  

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the effects of systematic desensitization and token economy on separation anxiety of Juniour Secondary School Students in Zaria Metropolis. The population of the study consisted of two hundred and eighty seven students with separation anxiety as identified using Spence Children Anxiety Scale. Twenty students from JS II, that are between 13-15 years were selected to participate in the study. The students sampled out for the study were students with high level of separation anxiety. The study employed quasi experimental pretestposttest design, in which selected students were grouped into two experimental groups. One of the experimental groups was treated with systematic desensitization, and the other with token economy technique. All the participants were exposed to pretest and a posttest. Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS) was used, where descriptive statistics of mean and standard deviation was used in answering research questions; hypotheses were tested using paired sample t-test, and analysis of co variance to compare the two variables. The research hypotheses formulated, were tested at 0.05 level of significance. The findings revealed that significant effect exist in the use of systematic desensitization on separation anxiety among Juniour Secondary School Students of Zaria Metropolis (t=4.486 p=.000). The findings also revealed that, token economy has significant effect on separation anxiety among Juniour Secondary School Students in Zaria Metropolis, (t=6.40 p=-.000). There is no significant differential effect of systematic desensitization and token economy technique on post test scores of students with separation anxiety (p=.000). The study also discovered no significant differential effect in the use of systematic desensitization and token economy technique on male and female students with separation anxiety (p=0.52), and (p=0.20). It was recommended that psychologists and counselors should be encouraged by school authorities to use these techniques of systematic desensitization and token economy in handling separation anxiety problems among secondary school students in Zaria Metropolis, Nigeria.  

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1     Background to the Study

 

Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried, it is when these anxious feelings don’t subside, but persist and exist without any particular reason or cause, and in so many cases affects the individual daily life activities in one way or the other. There are different types of anxiety like Generalised Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Anxiety, Post Traumatic Anxiety, to mention but a few. This study chose to focus on separation anxiety, because it is one big problem that affects students. Like many childhood concerns, separation anxiety is normal at certain developmental stage, for example, when a little child is separated from his/her mother or other primary caregivers, he/she may experience distress, which is normal. However, separation anxiety that occurs at later ages is considered a problem because it is outside normal developmental expectations, and because of the intensity of the child’s emotional response. Separation anxiety occurs most frequently from the ages of five to seven and from eleven to fourteen (www.minddisdorders.com). It is observed that children with Separation Anxiety tend to come from families that are close-knit, when separated from home or major attachment figures, they may recurrently exhibit social withdrawal, apathy, sadness, or difficulty concentrating on work or play (McLeod 2006).

The researcher observed from some of the studies reviewed here that children in developed countries are separated from parents at a tender age, because most parents in such countries go to work, and as a result, infants are taken to Day Care Centres, Crèches or left in the hands of Nannies who are usually employed by parents to look after their children while they are away.

In Nigeria on the other hand, children experience separation from parents when they gain admission into secondary schools, especially where a child is admitted in the boarding house, such children are expected to stay in the dormitory for the whole term usually three (3) months. The situation of leaving home to stay with some relatives for a while usually at the age of to (2) years when a chikd is weaned from breast milk, exposes the child to an entirely new life experience, the strange faces, new environment, absence of parents and breast milk create a lot of tension in the child, which can cause fever as a result of excessive cry and so much anxiety, which may affect the child, later in life.

Infants with anxious temperaments may have a predisposition towards later development of anxiety disorders. Another reason for separation anxiety is parent/child attachment, which translates into quality of attachment between children and their parents that has also been identified as a factor in separation anxiety. If the child senses emotional distance, the behaviour may be an attempt to draw the parent in more closely. The problematic behaviours can also draw the attention and care of others as well.  Children developmental considerations can also be a cause of separation anxiety; because children develop at different rates when compared to each other (boys mature slower than girls, for example). Furthermore, the rate of development within the same person can vary across different types of functioning (for example, a gifted child is advanced intellectually but may be behind developmental expectations for social and emotional areas of functioning). A slower rate of development in the intellectual, social, emotional, or physical arena can foster anxiety within the child, making the separation more

difficult.

Separation of children also take place when children of a divorced woman are accepted into a new family when she re marries, without any problem. But in some cases or, in most cases the wife leaves her children behind, to be looked after by her mate, or the children‘s maternal grandparents. Separating children from a parent or both parents can significantly affect their personality later in life (Nigeria Cultural Heritage 2009).

In the Hausa society for example, parents send their little children to distant cities to acquire Islamic education. These children are left in the care of adult men, which in most cases are not related to them, they are also responsible for teaching the children. Some of these children stay away from their parents for a long period of time, ranging from a year, two or more years. They experience a lot of hardships, like hunger, bullying, they lack basic hygiene; they equally suffer from loneliness that can lead to a number of anxious feelings.

Obi (2009) observed that in Igbo culture, the father has his crops to tend to, while his wives will have their own jobs, whether they will be tending the family garden, processing palm oil, or selling vegetables in the local market. The struggle the Ibo child faces during the course of his development, exposes him to frequent separation from the family, and in some cases, the child becomes permanently separated from his family, to live with a relative or a master elsewhere (usually in the cities).

In an average Nigerian family for example, children begin schooling at around three (3) years of age, which marks the beginning of leaving home for some hours. Some of these children find going to school each morning as amazingly pleasing, while others find it seriously disgusting, challenging, and a means of cutting the tie between the child and his parents for the period he is away. Children that find going to school each morning as a challenge to their happiness usually show a lot of problems in the school, and the teacher needs to understand the peculiar needs of the child in order to adopt the best approach in helping the child.

There are also some problems that are related to separation anxiety like depression, which is a condition that is commonly associated with anxiety disorders. Developing social skills can also be negatively affected by separation anxiety. There is also academic performance problem associated with separation anxiety. Prevention can be enhanced through parent effectiveness training that emphasizes the child’s positive and successful coping strategies when dealing with separation. Overly anxious parents may need to develop their own support mechanisms and systems to manage their feelings and avoid influencing their children negatively (PsychCentral.com).

The most effective treatments for separation anxiety involve parents, as well as school personnel when appropriate. Giving the child a sense of safety and security is key to successful treatment. Current treatment methods of separation anxiety combine some form of group or individual cognitive behavioural intervention. A number of treatment options include: Modeling, where Parents and Teachers can be helpful in modeling appropriate behaviours and coping mechanisms at home and at school. For example, parents can model being relaxed when saying goodbye to their children and other people.

Another strategy that could be adopted to help children with separation anxiety is Systematic desensitization, which is a behaviour modification technique in which a person is gradually exposed to an anxiety-provoking or fearful object or situation while learning to be relaxed. A child with separation anxiety may be taught relaxation techniques for managing his/her anxiety, and, as a result, can spend longer periods of time at school without a caregiver present by teaching him/her coping starategy through relaxation.

Separation anxiety has a poorer prognosis in environments where threats of physical harm or separation actually exist. Existence of other conditions, such as autism, decreases the likelihood of a positive prognosis. Presence of separation anxiety in childhood is sometimes associated with early onset panic disorder in adults (Kruck 2012),

This research also looked into token economy as a treatment strategy that was used to help children with separation anxiety problem. It is one of the most commonly used behaviour  management interventions, especially in settings for students who have learning or behavioural challenges.Within an educational setting, a token economy is a system for providing positive reinforcement to a child or children by giving them tokens for completing tasks or behaving in desired ways. Token economies are used as a method of strengthening behaviour, or increasing its frequency, because the tokens are a way of

―paying‖ children for completing tasks and the children can then use these tokens to buy desired activities or items (Miltenberger, 2008). A token economy is a form of behaviour modification, designed to increase desirable behaviour and decrease undesirable behaviour with the use of tokens.

Some previous studies focused on solving other behavioural problems like the study conducted by Ventas, Higbee and Murdock (2001), who investigated the effectiveness of systematic desensitization for fear reduction and Waggy (2002) who investigated the effects of a token economy system in comparison to social praise on the manifest behaviours of learning disabled students at an elementary school in West Virginia.

It is against this background that the researcher decided to focus on using systematic desensitization and token economy in addressing the problem of separation anxiety in our schools.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

It is a tradition that exists right from time immemorial, of a strong bond between mother and child, children are so much attached to their mothers than other people in the environment, in such a way that separation between the duo usually comes with a lot of difficulties that is manifested by the child in a number of disturbances-ranging from clinging, crying among others. Leaving home for the first time by the child, is usually accompanied by a lot of worries and anxiety, likewise when parents are leaving the child behind with a caregiver or a stranger to whom the parents have agreed to look after the child in their absence. A change of environment also brings about some discomforts to the child, which if not properly addressed, can affect the child‘s education in school.

The researcher noticed how some children are in the habit of displaying a lot of aggressive behaviours when leaving home for school, some of them will be fighting their younger ones, others will fight the parents, and become easily irritated for no just cause and some other ones will refuse to eat adequately when resumption date approaches; others will become withdrawn, and refuse to interact with friends and family members. The researcher also noticed how some children are frequently absent from school and pay multiple visits to medical doctors or paediatricians due to one problem or the other, while symptoms seem to appear only on school days and usually disappear as soon as the parents decide the child will stay at home. Sometimes young children describe having nightmares about separation themes more often, some other children show extreme distress upon separation from parents while leaving for school. The result of such behaviours usually leads the child to experience a lot of worries that can lead to poor performance, reluctance to interact with other children, refusal to sleep alone, truancy, ill health, frequent disputes with school mates and authority, among others. In spite of all these, separation anxiety has seldom been studied, and children are not usually clinically assessed until it results in school refusal.

It is in view of these problems, that the study sought to find out the effects of systematic desensitization and token economy on separation anxiety among secondary school students in Zaria Metropolis, Nigeria.

1.3            Objectives of the Study

The study hopes to achieve the following objectives:

  1. determine the effect of systematic desensitization technique on separation anxiety among junior secondary school students in Zaria Metropolis.
  2. find out the effect of token economy technique on separation anxiety among junior secondary school students in Zaria Metropolis. .
  3. determine the relative effects of systematic desensitization and token economy techniques on separation anxiety among junior secondary school students in Zaria Metropolis.
  4. Examine the differential effects of systematic desensitization on separation anxiety of male and female students in junior secondary schools of Zaria Metropolis.
  5. Assess the differential effects of token economy technique on separation anxiety of male and female students in junior secondary school of Zaria Metropolis.

           

 

          1.4       Research Questions

In line with the specific objectives, the study hopes to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the effect of systematic desensitization on separation anxiety of junior secondary schools students of Zaria Metropolis?
  2. What is the effect of token economy on separation anxiety of junior secondary school students in Zaria Metropolis?
  3. What is the relative effect of systematic desensitization and token economy technique on separation anxiety of juniour secondary school students in Zaria Metropolis?
  4. What is the differential effect of systematic desensitization on separation anxiety of male and female students in junior secondary schools of Zaria Metropolis?
  5. What is the differential effect of token economy on separation anxiety of male and female students in junior secondary schools of Zaria Metropolis?

       1.5        Research Hypotheses

The hypotheses raised for the purpose of this study are as follows:   HOI: There is no significant effect of systematic desensitization on                separation anxiety of junior secondary school students in Zaria

Metropolis.

HO2: There is no significant effect of token economy on separation anxiety

                   of junior secondary school students with in Zaria Metropolis.          HO3: There is no significant differential effect of systematic desensitization                          and token economy technique on separation anxiety of junior                      secondary school students in Zaria Metropolis.

       HO4: There is no significant differential effect of systematic desensitization                  on separation anxiety of male and female students in junior secondary                    school of Zaria Metropolis.

       HO5: There is no significant differential effect of token economy on                  separation anxiety of male and female students in junior secondary                         school of Zaria Metropolis.

     1.6        Basic Assumptions

The study assumes the followings:

  1. That systematic desensitization may have significant effect on separation anxiety of junior secondary school students in Zaria Metropolis.
  2. That token economy may have significant effect on separation anxiety of junior secondary school students in Zaria Metropolis.
  3. That systematic desensitization and token economy technique may have significant differential effect on separation anxiety of junior secondary school students in Zaria Metropolis.
  4. That significant difference may exist in the effect of systematic desensitization on separation anxiety of male and female students in junior secondary schools of Zaria

Metropolis.

  1. That significant difference may exist in the effect of token economy on separation anxiety of male and female students in junior secondary schools of Zaria Metropolis.

       1.7       Significance of the Study

The findings of the study is significant to the followings:

  1. Theory development.
  2. Parents/Caregivers.
  3. Reference material.
  4. Students with separation anxiety.
  1. Psychologists: It is believed that the findings of this study contributes to theory development in the area of behaviour management by Psychologists and counsellors, most importantly in Token Economy, Systematic Desensitization and Separation Anxiety, through strengthening the work of Skinner in the area of the use of Rewards to increase desired behaviour, and Wolpe, in his work on systematic desensitization in reducing fear towards objects, events, situations or place. Researchers can also expand on the findings of the study by further re-establishing new facts on the existing findings of this research (either by using a different population, or by building on the existing population), or by bridging the gap left in this study.
  2. Teachers: It is also believed that the study would expose teachers to the concept of separation anxiety, and strengthen them with understanding and ability to distinguish separation anxiety from other behaviours and anxiety related problems, like panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, among other problems. Using the signs and symptoms of separation anxiety problems as listed in this work, secondary school teachers will be able to identify children with separation anxiety, and liaise with psychologists or counsellors to help children so identified. Teachers can also learn the concepts of systematic desensitization and token economy strategies that could be employed by school administration, Paarent-Teachers‘ Associatio, to help children with separation anxiety overcome their problems.
  3. Parents/Caregivers: The study would also expose parents and caregivers to the concept of separation anxiety problems and strategies that if adopted could be of great help to children with separation anxiety. Parents and caregivers can use the knowledge acquired from this study to help their children overcome their anxiety problems, through the use of friendly/subtle strategies when leaving home. Through this research work, parents/caregivers can learn to gradually expose their children to separation coping strategies, even before it comes. For example, parents can begin by leaving the child for some minutes, then hours. They can also take the child to spend some few hours with friends or relatives before the actual time of separation (example, when going to boarding house), or they can even use more friendly gestures when leaving the child.
  4. Researchers: The study would serve as a reference material for further research in the fields of educational psychology, guidance and counseling, curriculum planning and other disciplines that deal with behavior problems. This research work can expose a researchers to the gap that needs to be studied, which can help the student with research topic. Students can also quote from the findings of the study when trying to establish a fact (reference material).

       1.8       Scope and Delimitation of the Study

The study was carried out in two boarding secondary schools in Zaria Educational Zone of Kaduna State. The choice of students in juniour secondary schools for this study is due to the fact that separation anxiety usually disturbs children that leave home, parents, caregivers and siblings, children at this level go to boarding houses, as such, they face serious separation problems. Therefore, the study covers all students with separation anxiety in Zaria Metropolis but delimited to some selected students with separation anxiety from two boarding schools of Zaria Metropolis. The study focused on boarding secondary school students because they leave home, to stay in the hostel. The study also found out the effect of two (2) behaviour treatment techniques (systematic desensitization and token economy) on separation anxiety of junior secondary school students in Zaria

Metroplis.

EFFECTS OF METHODICAL DESENSITISATION AND TOKEN ECONOMY ON SEPARATION ANXIETY OF JUNIOUR SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS IN ZARIA CITY, NIGERIA  

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