The purpose of this study was to examine children′s coping strategies in situations in which negative events befall the children themselves and contexts in which children observe others in negative situations. Kindergarten and second-grade children and their mothers were interviewed about the children′s coping strategies in distressing self- or other-relevant contexts (e.g., when the children themselves were socially rejected or when they observed a peer being rejected). According to both child and maternal reports, children were particularly likely to use instrumental coping strategies when they observed another child′s distress; they appeared to prefer distracting and avoidant actions, crying, or support from others when they themselves experienced distress. With age, there also was evidence of a decrease in the use of support-related strategies, and increases in cognitive restructuring, cognitive avoidance, and direct problem-solving. Several sex differences consistent with gender stereotypes also were noted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology