Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Children's Stress and Coping: A Family Perspective by Elaine Shaw Sorensen

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Children's Stress and Coping: A Family Perspective by Elaine Shaw Sorensen

Article excerpt

Children's Stress and Coping: A Family Perspective. Elaine Shaw Sorensen. New York: Guilford Press. 1993. 192 pp. ISBN 0-89862-084-8. $19.95 cloth.

Elaine Shaw Sorensen makes a compelling case for the need to hear children's voices in family research. She documents that prior research has relied on significant adults in children's lives (parents, teachers) providing information about children or on having children complete adapted versions of adult self-report instruments. The purpose of this book is to explore the psychosocial stressors and coping strategies in healthy children from the viewpoint of the children themselves. A second purpose is to document that children are valuable and credible informants in family research.

The first three chapters lay the foundation for the author's own study and review traditional approaches to stress and coping, theoretical and methodological issues in family stress and coping research, and prior research on stress, coping, and appraisal in children. The experienced family stress researcher will not find anything new in these first three chapters, yet they provide a wide-ranging review, drawing on research from several disciplines (family studies, nursing, social work, child psychiatry, psychology).

The most interesting and unique part of the book begins in Chapter 4 where the author describes her own study of children's stressors, "uplifts," and coping responses. The author approached the study with the assumption that children are articulate and valid respondents who can describe their own stressors, coping responses, and resources if given the appropriate unobtrusive vehicle for sharing this information with the researcher. Thus the concept of diary entries and optional drawings was introduced to a sample of 42 healthy children (17 boys and 25 girls between 7 and 11 years old) from 30 two-parent intact families. Both children and parents responding about the children recorded what was upsetting about the day (stressors), what they did about this (coping responses), and the best part of the day ("uplifts," which are viewed in this study as coping resources) over a 6-week period. …

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