Saturday, March 29, 2014
Parents and Children and Their Coping Skills
Parents and children generally cope through different mechanisms; adults use problem-focused coping, and children use emotion-focused coping. This alone has the potential to create a chasm between parents' and children's coping strategies. For example, Clark (2003) discussed that although parents may perceive something as healing, it may be perceived as threatening to the child.
If a child utilizes emotion-focused coping and the parent tries to engage the child in problem solving related to their illness, or if the parent negates or demeans their imaginative coping processes, it could cause confusion and a decreased ability for the child to cope (Clark, 2003). Children utilize imaginal coping, a strategy which employs imagination to ease fear, pain, uncomfortable situations, and boredom (Clark, 2003). To support children's coping strategies, parents and guardians must develop a deep understanding of coping according to the child's ability to perceive and create meaning "within a particular domain" (Clark, 2003, p. 162). Parents must work to actively understand their children to ensure the children develop a reasonable strategy that helps them to understand their circumstances and process their symptoms and their treatment(Clark, 2003).
Clark (2003) mentioned that acts of exclusion can alter children's images of themselves, fostering embarrassment and stigmatization. If a parent is avoidant in matters regarding the child's treatment, or perhaps wishes to protect the child from information, the child may not feel included in process, which may impede their ability to cope.
Children can affect the way parents cope as well. When parents perceive the way children cope, they may add more ritualistic play during treatments and may learn to incorporate "comforting objects" (Clark, 2003, p. 164) as valuable resources for coping. Parents and children contending with extenuating circumstances seem to learn to cope with everyday stressors better than the average healthy child or adult (Hampel, Rudolph, Stachow, Laβ-Lentzsch & Petermann, 2005). This may represent the ability of both parents and children to evolve in their ability to cope amidst extenuating circumstances.
Finding value in emotion focused coping strategies may be beneficial to problem solving adults. When individuals face disease, problem focused coping may not be as effective since the disease cannot be changed or eliminated. In cases of disease and unchangeable stressors, emotion focused strategies help relieve stress more effectively (Carver, 2011). It may be that children's emotion focused coping may affect the parents' coping mechanism as they realize the child is coping more effectively than they are.
Clark, C. D. (2003). Imaginal coping. In In sickness and in play: Children coping with chronic illness (pp. 91–138). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University.
Carver, C. S. (2011). Coping. In R. J. Contrada & Baum (Eds.), The handbook of stress science: Biology, psychology, and health (pp. 221–229). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Hampel, P., Rudolph, H., Stachow, R., Laβ-Lentzsch, A., & Petermann, F. (2005). Coping among children and adolescents with chronic illness. Anxiety, Stress & Coping: An International Journal, 18(2), 145–155.