An exploration of gifted and highly able adolescents' experiences with stress and coping /
Barber-Marsh, Kerry A.
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This narrative case study explored gifted and highly able adolescents' experiences with stress and coping. Nine students, ages 13-18, at 2 independent schools in southern Ontario, participated. They completed the Adolescent Coping Scale (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993), and I generated individualized graphs of coping strategies. Participants talked about experiences they perceived as stressful in their academic, personal, social, and familial settings during a 60-90 minute one-on-one audiotaped interview. During the interview, each participant made observations about their own coping strategies profile. The interview was analyzed to identify stressor and coping themes. Participants completed a writing or art task to record perceptions of stress and coping. The 3 data sources were used to craft 9 individual story portraits, from which 5 main stressor themes emerged: issues of time; relationships, emotions, and communication; ethical, moral, and spiritual issues; global issues; and silences, or stressors not talked about in depth. Coping themes were: seeking relaxing activities; having positive attitudes and making wise choices; maintaining relationships with peers and family; understanding the role of faith and moral beliefs; having a supportive environment; knowing your own personality type; being aware of negative coping strategies; and keeping busy and avoiding stressfiil issues. The narratives are important because they present teenagers talking about their socioemotional worlds. The present findings provide empirical groundwork for curriculum development in affective education and highlight the importance of socioemotional development for future research in the area of giftedness and adolescence.