Anxiety Disorders are the most prevalent mental illnesses in Western society, affecting the population in multiple ways. Onset for many anxiety disorders is as early as childhood or adolescence. The earlier the onset, the more chronic or severe it may be; it is important to focus on preventing anxiety disorders before they are developed. Research has shown that adaptive coping strategies can work as a mediator between stress and mental health. The current study explored effective coping strategies for young children in the general population, in an effort to further expand our knowledge about coping in children, and increase the applicability of these coping strategies in real-world settings. Children between five and ten years of age participated in training sessions where one of three types of coping strategies was taught using a therapeutic board game: relaxation, positive self-talk, and coping behaviors. Children’s coping abilities were assessed using the Self Report Coping Scale (SRCS) before and after the training sessions occurred. Results revealed that the majority of children used coping behavior types of strategies prior to being trained on new adaptive coping methods, and adopted coping behavior strategies more easily than relaxation or self-talk techniques. Comparisons of the SRCS scores after the training sessions to the SRCS assessment conducted prior to the training revealed that males and females were influenced differently by participation in the training: females increased, and males decreased the likelihood of using certain coping strategies. Future research is needed to continue exploring how gender, and type of coping strategy taught, influence the likelihood that children will adopt new adaptive coping strategies. This vital information will help educators, therapists, and parents to prevent or decrease anxiety in young children.
McCarthy, Julie-Anne, "Mental Illness Prevention: Exploring Effective Coping Strategies for School-Aged Children" (2013). Psychology Graduate Publications. 2.