An exploration of the coping strategies of early adolescents in two Gauteng schools
In the South African context adolescents need to cope with societal and family-related stressors seen as everyday stressors, such as parental divorce, violence in communities, bereavement and pressure in schools. Research has shown that these everyday stressors could have negative effects on their well-being. It was further seen that such a high exposure to everyday stress like school-based stressors leads to an increase in unhealthy behaviour, such as smoking and alcohol use in early adolescents. It is for this reason that resilience in adolescence is such an important factor. With all the challenges and everyday stress experienced by early adolescents, the wellness and resiliency perspective adds a positive angle to adolescent functioning. Constructively coping with everyday stress can therefore lead towards well-being. The purpose of this study was to explore how early adolescents cope with everyday stress. A qualitative research method was used with an embedded case study research design. A voluntary sample was drawn, consisting of 15 South African early adolescents from two schools in Gauteng (ages 12 to 15 years; boys and girls). Data on the subjective experience of coping strategies with everyday stress was gathered through individual semi-structured interviews (ten participants) and drawings to aid the verbalisation of their coping strategies. A focus group discussion with a different set of five participants added to the richness of data and to crystallisation, as they discussed themes which emerged from the individual interviews. Data were analysed thematically and visually. The results indicated that early adolescents experienced different types of everyday stress which accordingly needed a variety of coping strategies. Participants coped using intrapersonal resources (existential belief, creative activities, cognitive coping), interpersonal strengths (family, friends, social media) and behaviour-focussed coping (physical activity, fine motor behaviour). These coping strategies linked with the six modalities outlined in Lahad’s BASIC Ph resiliency model, namely beliefs, affect, social interaction, imagery, cognition and physical activity. Of special interest was the clear indication of the role of social media as part of their coping strategies.
- Humanities