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Strategies Children Use To Cope With Stress

1568 words - 6 pages

Human development occurs across the lifespan of each individual, it begins at conception and continues until death (P.B.Baltes, 1987. Kohli, 1984. cited in Heckhausen & Schultz, 1995). After the development of the prenatal stages (zygote, fetus, baby - during pregnancy), the child is born. At birth, babies are born with 'primary control strategies' (behavioral strategies) that help them to deal with stressful situations. Primary control strategies are outwardly directed, they attempt "to change the world so that it fits the needs and desires of the individual" (Heckhausen & Schultz, 1995). In the later stages of childhood, they develop 'secondary strategies' (cognitive strategies) that also assist in there ability to cope with stress, these are more inwardly based (Heckhausen &Schultz, 1995).As the baby grows he/she will eventually (and continually) experience situations in life that will cause stress, a child needs to learn how to cope with stress. Each situation will cause varying degrees of stress for each child, some situations will cause stress for some children but will not cause stress for others, therefore the way a situation is approached by a child depends on how stressful the child perceives that situation (Marriage & Cummins, 2004)To cope with stress children learn strategies that appear to be universal (occur in all children) but not universal within a situation, they can choose to partially avoid, completely avoid or approach stressful situations (Altshuler & Ruble, 1989).The first coping strategies that children use are innate and are 'primary' strategies (Marriage & Cummins, 2004. cite Heckhausen & Schulz) Primary strategies are (observable) behaviors that are displayed for others tosee. The developmental stage of infancy and toddler hood (0 - 2 years) the infant comes into contact with more and more stressful situations, learning to sit, crawl and walk cause the infant stress, the child combines already learnt skills to achieve these goals, there behavior becomes 'intentional' (Berk, 2003). Crying is usually the main way that infants cope with situational stress(Altshuler & Ruble, 1989), crying lets the parents know that the infant is uncomfortable, hungry, in pain or needs to be soothed (Berk, 2003).Young children are capable of displaying behaviors of primary process in stressful situations, each child handles stress differently and copes with the stress accordingly (Band & Weisz, 1988) - even if it is an aggressive behavior.Young children prefer to avoid a situation that causes them stress but they have difficulty in determining stressful situations (Altshuler & Ruble, 1989) and some situations (such as learning to walk) are unavoidable. If a situation is extremely stressful for the child, a parent can redirect the child to another, simpler task. Young children aren't as easily distracted with cognitive activities as older children (Altshuler & Ruble, 1989), behavioral distraction...


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