Coping with stress in sibling relationships: A comparison of children with disabled and nondisabled siblings

Wendy C. Gamble, Susan M. McHale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

The central premise of this work was that the psychological well-being and sibling relationship evaluations of children with disabled and nondisabled siblings may be a function of a process involving (a) children's experiences of daily stressful events involving their siblings, (b) their affective responses to the events, and (c) their strategies for coping with those stressors. Participating in this research were 62 children between 7 and 14 years of age, half with a younger, mentally disabled sibling and half with a nondisabled sibling. Analyses revealed that the two groups were basically similar in their ratings of the frequency and affect intensity of stressors involving their siblings, and differences between boys and girls were more common than such group differences. There was a trend for the groups to differ on their use of coping strategies, with siblings of nondisabled siblings (and girls) tending to use strategies involving thoughts about the other (e.g., "I thought that my brother was a creep") more often. Comparing children's ratings of their own well-being and their attitudes and behavior toward their siblings revealed that children with disabled brothers and sisters scored more poorly on some adjustment measures but rated their behavior toward their sibling more positively. Correlational analyses revealed a tendency for coping strategies involving self-directed thoughts to be positively related to the well-being and sibling relationship measures, whereas coping strategies involving other- directed thoughts were negatively related to these measures. Multiple-regression analyses revealed a tendency for coping strategies involving self-directed thoughts to be positively related to the well-being and sibling relationship measures, whereas coping strategies involving other-directed thoughts were negatively related to these measures. Multiple-regression analyses revealed that group membership was the only factor that consistently accounted for a significant portion of the variance in the adjustment measures. For the sibling relationship measures, both stressor frequency and the use of cognitive coping strategies accounted for significant portions of the variance. The discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for research on stress and coping in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-373
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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