Thursday, August 6, 2015

Adolescents and Stress

Summary of “Adolescents Coping with Stress: Development and Diversity”

The purpose of the article “Adolescents Coping with Stress: Development and Diversity” is to explore the common stressors in the lives of adolescents and the coping mechanisms often used to deal with these stressors. The authors start by explaining that around 25% of adolescents go through one life-altering event. Even further, many adolescents will face continual stressors related to both school and relationships.

The outcome of stressful experiences in the lives of adolescents depends on their ability to cope with the events appropriately. The failure to do so can lead to behavioral and mental health issues. Some mental health issues can further lead to physical problems. However, the authors state that coping with stress does not always result in negative outcomes, but positive outcomes are equally present. The coping strategies used are often linked to whether the adolescent views the stressor as a loss, threat, or challenge and the controllability of the situation. The authors claim that adolescence is important in the discovery of self and learning coping skills, but also a stressful time.

Next the authors lead us through the different coping responses often seen in adolescence, which are grouped as approach oriented, minimization, dependence on others, and helplessness. The authors go further to group coping responses into a dozen families, which lead to varied coping abilities. It is important to the mental health and development of adolescents to explore various coping strategies. However, most adolescents only rely on support seeking, problem-solving, and distraction to cope with stressful events in their lives.

Next, the authors explore how coping strategies differ between the genders of the adolescents. Although girls are faced with more stressors, they develop better coping skills than boys. However, girls’ coping skills are more internalized and have more of an impact on their mental well-being. Boys tend to keep themselves distracted in order to cope with the stressors in their lives.

Finally, the authors address the connection between coping responses in adolescents and poverty. Their findings show that adolescents living in poverty tend to face more uncontrollable stressors on a continual basis. This causes them to lack the ability to cope with the stressors before another problem arises. Therefore, these adolescents may have difficulty developing coping skills and may be under a tremendous amount of stress. The problem is even more compacted when the adolescent is a minority living in poverty.

Personal Reaction to “Adolescents Coping with Stress: Development and Diversity”

The article did not go over specific teaching strategies used when dealing with stressors or teaching coping strategies to adolescents. However, I do feel the article is beneficial and should be read by teachers going into the field. It is important to understand how students deal with stress and important to remember how their ability to deal with stress differs from that of an adult.

As a future educator, I should be aware of possible adolescent stressors, and I should be able to direct them to someone that may help them cope with stressful situations if I am unable to do so. Zimmer-Gembeck and Skinner did state that adolescents often go to their peers for support, but are unable to get the support they need due to their peers lack of coping skill development. Therefore, many of the students may seek an adult to help them during stressful times. In the classroom, I hope the students feel that I am someone they can trust. If so, my students may come to me to seek guidance or advice. If I feel uncomfortable in such situations, I need to know where to send them for the support they need.

Furthermore, the article has the families of coping in a table, which I find to be a useful tool that educators could use to help identify at risk students. The table lists the type of coping family such as problem solving, escape, submission, social isolation, etc. It also lists the examples of coping, functions in adaptive processes, and the related behaviors. Most of the related behaviors are visible to anyone who may be in contact with the student. Being able to identify the related behaviors can also help me to understand the student is not being personal. The adolescent may just lack the coping skills needed to deal with the stressful situation they have found themselves in. Overall, I feel the article has helped me to understand how insignificant some event may be to me, it may cause a great deal of stress in the life of an adolescent.

References

Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J., & Skinner, E. A. (2008). Adolescents Coping with Stress: Development and Diversity. The Prevention Researcher, 15(4), 3-7.

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