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Mom and dad are key to how we handle stress


A new study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Research on Adolescence examines coping styles from youth to young adulthood. The authors find that individuals who had coherent relationships with their parents, dealt with their problems more actively by seeking support and reflecting on possible solutions. They also became increasingly more competent in dealing with a variety of stressors. Those considered insecure, or poorly attached to their parents showing only minor growth in their coping styles, were less inclined to seek support and frequently used poor coping behaviors, such as withdrawal.

Participants from age fourteen to seventeen completed a questionnaire once a year that consisted of eight domains of stress, including common stressors such as peers, and school/studies. They were also asked if they used any of twenty coping strategies. Their answers led the authors to one of three coping styles: active, the use of formal and informal support systems; internal, thinking about solutions and recognizing one’s limitations; or withdrawal, retreating to avoid the stressor. At age twenty-one, they were asked about their youthful experiences with their parents. The authors were then able to see if they fell into the secure or insecure category. Did they value their parents, limit the influence of them, and/or answer the questions in a vague or aggressive fashion? "Whereas the adaptive coping style in secure individuals may result in long-term positive outcome, insecure individuals are at risk for maladaptive outcome, because their coping styles may not result in a reduction of distress," authors Inge Seiffgre-Krenke and Wim Beyers conclude.

Jill Yablonski | EurekAlert!
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