Children in residential care: Thematic content of their life narratives

Diana Neves Teixeira, Sara Ramos Silva, Margarida Rangel Henriques


Narrative is the way humans are privileged to organize their lives (Bruner, 2002), giving meaning to an otherwise chaotic experience (Gonçalves, Korman & Angus, 2000). Between late childhood and early adolescence, the importance of building meaning for their life history arises in order to build personal coherence (Pasupathi, Mansour & Brubaker, 2007). Children living in residential care see in this task the additional challenge of making sense in paths of precocious adversity, ruled by traumas and breaks. Thus it is pertinent to study how they organize their narratives, including the themes they include.

The sample consisted of 16 participants aged 7 to 12 years (M = 9.19; SD = 1.68), in a residential care setting. An Interview with Narrative Life with Children (Henriques, Ribeiro & Saraiva, 2009) was held to collect the stories. The thematic analysis of the life narratives allowed to identify 27 themes, which were highlighted by the frequency with which they appeared in the children's discourse.

The narratives present a thematic multiplicity, including normative life events and also events related to the specificity of their course, referring to globally functional narrative competence. The diverse thematic content of the narratives emphasizes, also, the importance of creating spaces of conversation with the children in residential host without limitation of subjects.


Autobiographical Narratives, Narratives of Life, Children, Residential Accommodation, Thematic Content


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