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Evaluating Child Coping Competence: Theory and Measurement

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Much of the research on children’s coping styles is based on a downward extension of adult coping theories. In a departure from this approach, coping competence theory seeks to account for children’s ability to cope with daily challenges on the basis of developmental research. The theory, which states that challenges call for distinct coping skills in the affective, social, and achievement domains, was evaluated with an ethnically diverse sample of preschoolers. The study relied on confirmatory factor analysis of a parent-completed measure of coping to test the 3-factor model underlying the theory, and related those factors to parent and teacher measures of child functioning. Results supported the 3-factor model of coping competence and showed that each domain of coping was negatively correlated with parent and teacher ratings of child disruptive behavior. Coping competence theory held across child sex and age. Findings provide support for a 3-factor model of coping competence in early childhood and for the validity of the new parent-completed measure of children’s coping styles refined in this study.

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This research was supported in part by grant MH/DA54171, co-funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (U.S. Department of Justice), by grant U81/CCU413401 funded by the National Center on Injury Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and by assistance from the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services

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Correspondence to Angela D. Moreland.



Appendix A Coping competence scale


Appendix B Covariance matrices – Years 1, 2, and 3


Appendix C Parameter estimates


Appendix D Test of Model 4: Error variances found invariant in sex comparisons

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Moreland, A.D., Dumas, J.E. Evaluating Child Coping Competence: Theory and Measurement. J Child Fam Stud 17, 437–454 (2008).

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