Socialization of Coping in a Predominantly Female Sample of Caregivers: Contributions to Children’s Social Adjustment in Middle Childhood

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Abstract

This study applied a short-term longitudinal design to examine whether socialization of coping, observed in real time, predicted social adjustment (i.e., friendship quality and social problems) in middle childhood. Further, this study explored whether socialization of coping contributed to children’s social adjustment independent of other aspects of parenting (i.e., positive involvement, autonomy support). Parents’ (primarily mothers’) coping suggestions were observed while children completed a challenging star-tracing task, and children and parents reported on children’s social adjustment at baseline and at a 6-month follow-up. Results revealed that primary control engagement suggestions predicted fewer social problems, and disengagement suggestions predicted lower friendship quality. These results demonstrate that coping suggestions observed in the context of a cognitive stressor help to explain individual differences in children’s social development during middle childhood above and beyond other aspects of parenting.

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