Relations between self-esteem and coping strategies of adolescents were examined for 361 male and female adolescents in Grades 7 through 12. Coping strategies were assessed by the Adolescent Coping Orientation for Problem Experiences (Patterson & McCubbin, 1986) and self-esteem was assessed by the Coopersmith's Self-Esteem Inventory (Coopersmith, 1987). Multivariate analyses revealed that adolescents with lower self-esteem utilized more avoidance coping strategies than adolescents with higher self-esteem. In addition, males reported utilizing avoidance coping strategies more frequently than females; females were found to utilize social and spiritual supports more frequently than males. No age differences in coping strategies or self-esteem were found for this study. Self-esteem differences are discussed in terms of intervention strategies.
Adolescence in western culture marks an important developmental transition from the dependency of childhood to the self-sufficiency of adulthood. Peterson and Hamburg (1986) noted that adolescence is a time of major changes in family, school, and peer group structures. These changes, combined with life's daily experiences, often produce varying levels of stress, making it imperative that adolescents develop effective coping strategies. Coping strategies have been defined by Lazarus and Folkman (1984) as a set of behavioral and cognitive responses that are designed to master, tolerate, or reduce the demands of a stressful situation. The ability to cope effectively with stress has been viewed as a crucial component of resilience among children and adolescents and important in influencing patterns of positive growth and development (Werner, 1989). Werner observed that cognitive skills (e.g., attention and reflectiveness), positive responses to others, and social supports often characterize the developmental course of resilient individuals.
Adolescents are first introduced to coping strategies in their families and tend to use strategies modeled by their primary caregivers (Shulman, Seiffge-Krenke, & Samet, 1987). Family support is associated with less-psychological strain among individuals during periods of stressful life change (Moos, 1990). As adolescents increase in age, the experience with and success gained from using certain coping strategies leads to these becoming their primary method for coping with life's highs and lows (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1991). In other words, the task of learning coping strategies may be initiated within the family, but ways to cope may be subject to change over time.
Bird and Harris (1990) found adolescent females handle problems and personal stressors in a more diplomatic fashion. They use peaceful, less violent methods of coping with stress, such as utilizing social support networks in lieu of ventilation strategies. In contrast, males are reported to be aggressive and to act as pillars of strength and to ventilate their feelings through the use of swearing, and taking anger out on others. In addition, other studies indicated that females are more inclined than males to rely on support networks as a coping strategy (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1991; Stark, Spirito, Williams, & Guevermont, 1989).
The purpose of this study was to examine the relation between adolescent coping strategies and self-esteem. Although research on the relation between these two variables is meager, existing research indicates that adolescents with higher self-esteem deal...
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