Getting through: Children's effective coping and adaptation in the context of the Canterbury, New Zealand earthquakes of 2010-2012

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Massey University
Children may experience distress and can become vulnerable as the result of a disaster. However, recent research suggests that children experiencing such adversity can address adversity by employing their capacities to adapt. The present study investigates how children coped effectively with a disaster, the Canterbury, New Zealand earthquakes of 2010-2102, and identifies strategies, processes, and resources that promoted effective coping and adaptation. Semistructured interviews took place with 38 children from three different age groups, with 31 parents, and with 11 teachers and principals from five Canterbury schools. Children were interviewed twenty months after the first earthquake, during an ongoing aftershock sequence, and six selected children were interviewed again sixteen months later. Thematic analysis of interview data identified multiple, inter-connected coping strategies and resources in the children that were fundamental to their post-disaster adaptation. Children coping effectively employed a repertoire of diverse coping strategies in a flexible and pertinent manner. Three key strategies employed by the children were emotional regulation, positive reframing, and problem-solving. Sixteen months later, the children had shifted their focus away from coping with earthquakes to coping with everyday problems. It is expected that findings from this study will contribute to future interventions for promoting effective coping and adaptation by children.
Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 2017, 21 (1), pp. 19 - 30 (12)