From time to time youngsters and adults alike are faced with challenges that may threaten healthy living and deprive them of happiness. Current apporaches in dealing with these challenges are geared towards nurturing of intrinsic mechanisms in coping with challenges. In addition research has also established that there is significant relationship between the perception of control to the challenging situation and the coping strategy adopted. Adoption of the lack of control attitude leads to a more passive approach to the situation while adoption of a control attitude encourages a more active approach.

Coping Mechanisms

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In a research conducted by Compas (1996), where he studied the perception of children whose parents had cancer, there was a general realization that perception of the extent of control significantly influenced the coping mechanism adopted. This was related to how the much the children felt in control of the situation. In a related research conducted by Firth et al (2008), it was established that children with learning disabilities who were trained to adopt more personal approach progressed more positively as compared to children who depended on feedback from their teachers.  

Both Compas and Firth et al outline that although children were well aware of their situations, this did not affect their preference to personal or external coping mechanisms. Compas explains that children whose parents had cancer always had an accurate perception of the stressfulness and the characteristics of the parent’s illness. Firth et al outline that with regard to the control of thoughts, there was no difference between children who had received intervention and the control group. The observation is that there is little control as to how children perceived challenging situations.

In their research Firth et al realized that children who depended on feedback from their teachers were always in danger of developing dependency. Furthermore, these children developed minimal control of their feelings. In the research conducted by Firth, he established that children who assumed little control of the situation had reduced number of coping strategies available for them.

Firth concludes by outlining that when children adopted a more passive approach they always preferred emotionally related coping strategies. These emotionally related coping strategies were however realized to be counterproductive in terms of making the whole situation more stressful. Compas’ findings are also similar because he established that children with disabilities who depended on feedback from teachers were not able to effectively adopt the “taking control attitude.” This is because some of these children tended to relate their success to luck rather than their own efforts.


The general observation is that the nature of coping mechanisms adopted is significantly related to the perceived control of the situation. When the perception is that there is little control, then there is danger of a passive approach leading to more emotional coping strategies which are counterproductive. There should be more emphasis on letting people to explore their personal strengths because it nurtures control over feelings.

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