Negative life events, coping and mental health in middle childhood
More details
Hide details
Submission date: 2014-12-05
Final revision date: 2015-01-28
Acceptance date: 2015-01-28
Online publication date: 2015-07-21
Publication date: 2015-07-21
Health Psychology Report 2015;3(3):201–209
In the period of middle childhood, social experiences (both educational and social) may constitute a critical moment in time for the ultimate results of development in the case of an individual. Negative life events and coping skills may guarantee a positive or negative direction of development, exerting an influence on the mental health of children. In the study, a four-factor model of mental health was adopted, taking into consideration psychopathological symptoms within the scope of externalizing and internalizing disorders, the level of the performance of developmental tasks, and the sense of life satisfaction. The present study investigated the correlation between stress, coping and mental health in children in middle childhood.

Participants and procedure
The study included 182 individuals aged between 9 and 12 years. The following aspects were subjected to assessment: the level of mental health, the number and severity of negative life events, and the strategies of coping with stress. In order to determine the strongest predictors of the four dimensions of mental health of children, hierarchical regression analysis was applied.

It was found that the strongest predictor of mental health of children in the period of middle childhood was individual and accumulated negative stress events. Lower significance was found for the subjective assessment of the severity of events being experienced. It was found that a factor protecting against disorders was active methods of coping.

The study suggests that it is not only psychopathological symptoms that constitute the negative consequence of the effect of stress. Negative stress events influence the positive dimensions of mental health, including the level of performance of developmental tasks and the sense of life satisfaction in children in the period of middle childhood. The obtained results show the specific character of the discussed period of development. However, these issues still need to be explored further.
Anderson, G. E., & Jimerson, S. R. (2007). Stressful life experiences of children: The correspondence between professional judgments of teachers-in-training and children’s perceptions. Psychology in the Schools, 44, 807-821.
Caplan, M., Bennetto, L., & Weissberg, R. P. (1991). The role of interpersonal context in the assessment of social problem-solving skills. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 12, 103-114.
Collins, W. A. (1984). Development During Middle Childhood: The Years From Six to Twelve. Washington: NAC.
Compas, B. E., Connor-Smith, J. K., Saltzman, H., Harding Thomsen, A., & Wadsworth, M. E. (2001). Coping with stress during childhood and adolescence: Problems, progress, and potential in theory and research. Psychological Bulletin, 17, 87-127.
Feinstein, L., & Bynner, J. (2004). The importance of cognitive development in middle childhood for adulthood socioeconomic status, mental health, and problem behavior. Child Development, 75, 1329-1339.
Gamble, W. C. (1994). Perceptions of controllability and other stressor event characteristics as determinants of coping among young adolescents and young adults. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 23, 65-80.
Garmezy, N., & Masten A. S. (1994). Chronic adversities. In: M. Rutter, L. Herzov, & E. Taylor (eds.), Child and adolescent psychiatry: Modern approaches (pp. 191-208). Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publication.
Grzegorzewska, I. (2006). Realizacja zadań rozwojowych okresu dorastania przez dzieci leczących się alkoholików. Niepublikowana praca doktorska [Realization of developmental tasks of adolescence by childrenof recovery alcoholics]. Poznań: UAM.
Grzegorzewska, I. (2013). Odporność psychiczna dzieci alkoholików [The resilience of children from alcoholic families]. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar.
Grzegorzewska, I. (2011). Dorastanie w rodzinach z problemem alkoholowym [Adolescence in families with alcohol problems]. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar.
Juczyński, Z., & Ogińska-Bulik, N. (2009). Narzędzia pomiaru stresu i radzenia sobie ze stresem [Measurement tools of stress and coping]. Warszawa: PTP.
Lazarus, R. (1999). Hope: An emotion and a vital coping resource against despair. Social Research: An International Quarterly, 66, 653-678.
Lazarus, R., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer Publishing Co.
Lengua, L. J. (2002). The contribution of emotionality and self-regulation to the understanding of children’s response to multiple risk. Child Development, 73, 144-161.
Masten, A. S., & Powell, J. L. (2003). A resilience framework for research, policy, and practice. In: S. S. Luthar (ed.), Resilience and vulnerability: Adaptation in the context of childhood adversities (pp. 1‐25). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Melosik, Z. (1999). Ciało i zdrowie w społeczeństwie konsumpcji [Body and health in society consumption]. Toruń-Poznań: Wydawnictwo Edytor.
Namysłowska, I. (2013). Zdrowie psychiczne dzieci i młodzieży w Polsce – stan rozwoju opieki psychiatrycznej i zadania na przyszłość [Mental health of children and adolescents in Poland – the state of the development of psychiatric care and future goals]. Postępy Nauk Medycznych, 1, 4-9.
Pincus, D., & Friedman, A. (2004). Improving children’s coping with everyday stress: transporting treatment interventions to the school setting. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 7, 223-240.
Ogińska-Bulik, N., & Juczyński, Z. (2010). Osobowość. Stres a zdrowie [Personality. Stress and Health]. Warszawa: Difin SA.
Radziwiłłowicz, W. (2011). Depresja u dzieci i młodzieży. Analiza systemu rodzinnego – ujęcie kliniczne [Depression in childhood and adolescence]. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Impuls.
Robins, L., & Rutter, M. (1990). Straight and devious pathways from childhood to adulthood. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rolf, J., Masten, A. S., Cicchetti, D., Nuechterlein, K. H., & Weintraub, S. (1990). Risk and protective factors in the development of psychopathology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Seligson, J., Huebner, E., & Valois, R. (2003). Preliminary validation of the Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale (BMSLSS). Social Indicators Research, 61, 121-145.
Sęk, H. (1991). Procesy twórczego zmagania się z krytycznymi wydarzeniami życiowymi a zdrowie psychiczne [The processes of creative struggle with critical life events and health mental]. In: H. Sęk (ed.), Twórczość i kompetencje życiowe a zdrowie psychiczne [Creativity and life competence and mental health] (pp. 30-41). Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM.
Sharrer, V., & Ryan-Wenger, N. (2002). School-age children’s self-reported stress symptoms. Pediatrics Nursing, 28, 21-27.
WHO. (2005). Child and adolescent mental health policies and plans. Singapore: World Health Organization.
Wolańczyk, T. (2002). Zaburzenia emocjonalne i behawioralne u dzieci i młodzieży szkolnej w Polsce [Emotional and behavioral disordersin children and adolescents in Poland]. Warszawa: Akademia Medyczna.