Title

Children's perceptions of stressful events and how they cope with them: An Indian experience

Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Child and Family Studies

Advisor(s)

Mellisa A. Clawson

Keywords

Children, Cope, Stressful, India

Subject Categories

Child Psychology

Abstract

The domain of stress and coping in adults has been the subject of extensive research; however the deleterious effects of stress and ways of coping among children need to be examined. The present study was conducted in Bombay, India. This multimethod study examined 115 Indian children's stressors and coping actions from their own perspective. The research goals of the study were to (1) seek out and investigate children's stressors from their own perspective and explore how children attempt to cope with stressful situations; and (2) examine whether perceived sources of stress and coping mechanisms used by children vary as a function of age, gender, family type, and maternal employment. The quantitative component of the study was comprised of a series of questionnaires about potentially stressful daily hassles and major life events. A coping response inventory was used to obtain information about children's coping actions. The qualitative component of the study consisted of focus group sessions which were held with small groups of children, in a familiar room in their school. Data from the focus group sessions provided additional information about what children perceive as upsetting and how they cope with stressful situations. Results of the study indicate that children are able to systematically identify sources of stress in their environment and are able to discuss their coping actions in response to the stress. A significant gender difference revealed that girls rated all situations as more stressful than boys, perhaps due to higher cultural expectations from girls in India. The findings accentuate the need to widen the coping repertoires of children and involve significant adults such as parents and teachers in stress management programs with children, thereby promoting competency and resilience.

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