The effect of parenting styles on coping strategies among mainstream and special education students

Phyllis Anne Brown, Pace University


Life stressors have been reported to have a significant negative impact on virtually every area of functioning. Parenting, in some form or another is a constant aspect in the lives of many children and one of the first experiences from which they learn life's lessons. This research addressed the impact of different parenting styles on the development of a particular coping strategy called hardiness. The similarities and differences will be compared among mainstream and special education adolescent students.^ There has been little evidence that examines the effect of parents on their children's ability to better process stress. There is ample evidence to suggest that effective coping strategies ameliorate stress and produce medically healthier individuals. The personality construct known as hardiness (Kobasa, 1979) is proposed to have protective properties. It is comprised of three factors, which together are believed to render one less susceptible to the negative effects of stress.^ Subjects were 98 adolescents from a suburb of New York, taken from a public high school. Subjects were primarily Hispanic/Latino. Students were asked to complete the hardiness questionnaire, an adapted version of Schaefer's Child Report of Parental Behavior Inventory (CRPBI), and the Adolescent Inventory of Life Events and Change (A-FILE) to determine recent life stresses. Parenting style, particularly the democratic style is hypothesized to be clearly related to the development of a hardy personality. Other parenting styles are supposed to have an inhibiting effect on the development of hardiness, and the presence of recent stress is also hypothesized to be an inhibitor to coping.^ Overall, findings indicated that there was no difference between the two groups (mainstream and special education) with regard to the prominent parenting style they experienced. There were significant differences with regard to the age of the two groups and the impact of hardiness on the two groups. The sample was found to possess the coping strategy of hardiness. There were no significant differences found with regard to the relationship of age or gender to parenting style. It was also found that recent stress level did not have an impact on hardiness. Correlations showed hardiness with a significant correlation on some subscales, and strong correlations between the mother and father styles of parenting. These findings were important in that special education students were found to be experiencing ample permissive and neglectful parenting styles, perhaps placing them at even greater risk. This research should be expanded to gain an understanding of parents' impact on the development of hardiness, and help to develop a profile of those at risk and requiring further intervention. Additional research should be done on hardiness, given that there were some results that were and were not consistent with prior research and to develop a uniform hardiness instrument. The instruments from this study could be used as a screening tool in school assessment as well as in the larger community when planning individual or family interventions. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Developmental|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Brown, Phyllis Anne, "The effect of parenting styles on coping strategies among mainstream and special education students" (1997). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9734922.



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