Children have their right to give their voice and participate in situations which they are engaged in, according to The Convention on the Rights of Child. The aim of this study was to explore and describe 3 year old children’s expressions of engagement during annual child health care visits.
A qualitative research design with video observations was used. The actions of 29 3 year old children were focused on when interplaying with the nurse. A hermeneutic analysis was carried out to grasp the children’s varied expressions.
The findings demonstrate how 3 year old children, when invited to the health care activity, are preparing themselves in readiness for engagement. They arrange their bodies in different positions, ask questions, seek contact with a parent or are absorbed in thoughtfulness. Then the children direct their attention towards the nurse and/or the health care activity with spoken and/or bodily readiness. Children’s engagement occupies the whole body or separate parts of the body. Further, findings demonstrate how bodily expressions replace each other in a rapid process and how the same expressions can have different meaning depending on the actual situation. The children’s spoken expressions strengthen bodily expressions, and are responding to nurses’ invitations or are spontaneous conversation.
This research project will continue to study expressions of engagement and perceived participation of the children at 4 and 5.5 years of age at their annual primary child health care visits. To take preschool children’s engagement in primary child health care settings into consideration can contribute to promoting their participation when interacting with the nurse.
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