Discuss at least three possible stressors that can negative…

Discuss at least three possible stressors that can negatively impact a child’s and adolescent’s sense of attachment. How do stressors from abuse affect a child’s coping skills? How does this differ among the coping skills of older adolescents?


Attachment plays a crucial role in the development and well-being of children and adolescents. It refers to the emotional bond between a child and their primary caregiver, which influences their sense of security, self-esteem, and ability to form healthy relationships. However, various stressors can negatively impact a child or adolescent’s sense of attachment. This essay will discuss three possible stressors that can adversely affect attachment, with a specific focus on the impact of abuse on coping skills and the differences in coping skills among older adolescents.

Stressors that impact attachment

1. Parental neglect

Parental neglect is a significant stressor that can negatively impact a child’s attachment. Neglect occurs when parents fail to provide the necessary physical and emotional care, attention, and support that a child needs. This lack of consistent and responsive caregiving can lead to feelings of insecurity and detachment, hindering the child’s ability to develop trust and form healthy attachments with others. Research suggests that neglected children may exhibit difficulties in forming secure relationships, experience higher levels of anxiety and depression, and struggle with emotional regulation and self-control (Cicchetti & Toth, 2005).

2. Parental substance abuse

Parental substance abuse is another stressor that can adversely affect a child or adolescent’s attachment. Substance abuse can impair a parent’s ability to engage in positive caregiving behaviors, resulting in neglect, inconsistency, and emotional unavailability. Children growing up in households affected by substance abuse may experience a range of negative consequences, including disruptions in attachment formation, increased risk of physical and emotional abuse, and exposure to chaotic and unpredictable environments. These experiences can undermine their sense of safety and trust, leading to difficulties in forming secure and healthy attachments with others (Klostermann & Fals-Stewart, 2006).

3. Domestic violence

Domestic violence is a stressful and traumatic experience that can significantly impact a child’s attachment. Witnessing violence between parents or caregivers can create a hostile and unpredictable environment, causing fear and distress in children. Exposure to domestic violence can disrupt the emotional bond between the child and their primary caregiver, as the caregiver may be actively abusing or being abused. This disruption can hinder the child’s ability to feel safe, secure, and protected within the attachment relationship. Research suggests that children exposed to domestic violence are at an increased risk of developing internalizing and externalizing behaviors, experiencing psychological distress, and displaying impaired social and emotional functioning (Evans, Davies, & DiLillo, 2008).

Impact of abuse on coping skills

Abuse can have a profound impact on a child’s coping skills, affecting their ability to manage stress and regulate emotions effectively. Children who experience abuse often face significant challenges in coping with the trauma and its aftermath. The long-term effects of abuse on coping skills can vary depending on factors such as the severity and duration of the abuse, the presence of supportive caregivers, and access to appropriate interventions.

Abused children may develop maladaptive coping strategies as a means of survival. These strategies can include avoidance, denial, emotional numbing, and aggression, which may provide temporary relief but can impede healthy development and hinder the formation of secure attachments. Inadequate coping skills resulting from abuse can make it more difficult for children to trust others, regulate emotions, and maintain stable relationships, contributing to a cycle of insecure and troubled attachments (Cyr, Euser, Bakermans-Kranenburg, & Van IJzendoorn, 2010).

Differences in coping skills among older adolescents

As children transition into adolescence, their coping skills undergo significant development and change. Older adolescents may have greater resources and capacities to cope with the effects of abuse compared to younger children. However, they also face unique challenges and stressors associated with adolescence, which can influence their coping strategies.

During adolescence, there is an increased focus on identity formation, autonomy, and peer relationships. Older adolescents may be better equipped to seek out social support, access mental health services, and engage in problem-solving and emotion regulation strategies. They may also develop more adaptive coping skills, such as seeking help from trusted adults, engaging in positive coping activities, and developing a sense of purpose and future orientation (Stewart, Harkins, & Laird, 2014).

Despite these potential strengths, older adolescents who have experienced abuse may still face significant difficulties in coping. The impact of abuse during childhood can persist into adolescence, leading to ongoing emotional and psychological challenges. Older adolescents may grapple with issues such as trust, self-esteem, and identity, which can complicate their coping process. Furthermore, societal stigma and limited access to mental health services may create additional barriers to effective coping among older adolescents who have experienced abuse (Griffin, Gerlach-Downie, & Liveley, 2012).


Various stressors, such as parental neglect, parental substance abuse, and domestic violence, can negatively impact a child or adolescent’s attachment. These stressors can disrupt the formation of secure and healthy attachments, hindering the child’s development and well-being. Additionally, abuse can significantly impact a child’s coping skills, leading to maladaptive strategies and difficulties in regulating emotions and forming secure relationships. While older adolescents may possess stronger coping resources, the impact of abuse can still present challenges and obstacles to their coping process. Understanding the effects of stressors on attachment and coping skills is crucial for developing interventions and support systems that promote resilience and healthy development in children and adolescents.