RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS AND COPING STRATEGIES AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
Background to the Study
Emotion has been described as what involves alterations in a person’s psychic equilibrium with possible repercussions on his conduct. For example, Owuamanam and Owuamanam (2004) defined emotion as a condition in which the mental and physical aspects of an individual are stirred, aroused or moved. They further explained that it is a feeling that is uncontrollable voluntarily and which is accompanied by physiological changes. It is a reaction to stress arising from events happening in the external and internal environments of the individual.
Life is surrounded by many problems which are not always possible to avoid. However, one should have some sort of control on how to deal or cope with these problems. More or less, people could keep a balance of their own emotional state instead of loosing the balance completely.
Almost any situation can induce emotional tension. This is especially true if the individual is unfamiliar with the situation or does not know how to react to it. Such individual may experience conflict of interests or desires with resulting emotional problems. For example, for a young person to be trusted suddenly into a new school or neighbourhood may be the cause of acute emotional problems. If conditions in the situation interfere with an easy adjustment, the young person may develop emotional problems that may be difficult to overcome.
Emotional problems are likely to be among the most common issues affecting school age children. They are also some of the most likely problems which can affect academic performance and failure to address these issues can cause life long problems.
A significant number of students are at risk or are currently experiencing emotional problems and also that if students experience emotional distress related to their difficulties, they tend to have higher levels of emotional concern such as depression, anxiety and low self esteem. Students may seem to experience many emotions during lessons, while studying and when taking tests and examinations and some of these emotions can be negative emotions which are brought into the classroom for life outside the school.
Anxiety appears to be a common emotional difficulty that is experienced by Ekiti State secondary school students probably due to the added pressures of being in a new school environment, being away from home and the stress of unwanting to do well in school that overwhelm some students. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) (2005) indicates that between 2 to 27% of students in schools have significant difficulties with anxiety. For example, students who are struggling with some type of learning difficulties, their emotional problem of anxiety can be magnified. Student who struggle in school may often develop a concept of themselves as being ineffective with their major life tasks, these concerns easily lead to significant anxiety when in school settings. Without intervention, this condition can cause additional difficulties in school that result in increased likelihood of dropping out of school.
Secondary School students in Ekiti State seem to be known for their poor conducts in tests and examination. As noted by the researcher, some secondary school students in Ekiti State frequently complain of restlessness and lack of concentration at the approach of test or examination. Some of the students consistently lament that they do not remember what they have read for the purpose of tests and examination. This causes some of the students to envisage failure before the test or examination is written. Some of the students in Ekiti State Secondary Schools that manifest these symptoms of anxiety in test and examination situations may not be different from their counter parts across Nigeria in their seeing test or examination as a fearful activity that is purposely meant to punish students.
The school may contribute to students’ emotional problem of anxiety. Possible sources of anxiety at school may be interpersonal and academic related stressors. Students seem to experience pressure to both conform to expectations of different groups in the school environment. Change may cause emotions arising from enforcement of rules, norms, and standard by peers, family and school staff. Daily interpersonal interactions with teachers and other staff and peers are especially difficult for some students. Differences in background, appearance, language, social and emotional development, all can determine whether a student fits in or not. Not fitting in can lead to being isolated, rejected and even bullied and coming to school each day may become fearful and anxious.
In Ekiti State, polygamous is widely practiced and broken families due into divorce are many. Student from polygamous homes may not concentrate on their school activities due to lack of enough care possibly because of huge number of dependants in the family. Student under this situation may have the higher tendency to develop and display symptoms of exaggeratedanxiety. Observation by Kala and Drum (2009) revealed that students born of polygamous parents mostly go about in a torn emotion. Students from monogamous homes may be less susceptible to anxiety than their colleagues from polygamous family settings. Students from broken homes may have emotional problems due to various negative challenges and stressful situations they may be experiencing. In a counseling encountered with the students, some of these students disclosed that after their parents separation, they were left with their step mothers, step fathers, uncles, aunties or ground parents through whom they experienced some abuse. Thus family type and family structure may play a vital role in determining response to anxiety.
Students’ emotional problems may occur through negative family circumstances such as parental relationship of a poor quality which does not provide the child with security and love. Videon (2009) noted that parent interaction with their children has much to do in molding and developing the personality traits, intellectual abilities and emotional stability of the child. In many homes in Ekiti State, parents seem to be hostile, critical and violent towards each other and the child. This can become a major source of stress for the students and contribute to low self esteem of such students.
Students may experience poor relationships with their parents because of alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual abuse, violence and bullying. Positive parent – child relationship may make the child to communicate well with their parents, tell them their daily activities and to disclose their problems, thoughts and feelings. Interactions with some students in the school during counseling have shown that cordial relationship seem to be lacking in many homes in Ekiti State, as some of these students are left to fend for themselves. This situation might be a predictor of student emotional problems. Students who are raised in families where parents do not offer them emotional support may be at greater risk of developing emotional problems. Thus the relationship between the children and their parents may influence the children’s’ behavior and emotion.
In Ekiti State, some of the families are surviving through the help of their children who are students.Children whose parents live in abject poverty on their own to acquire educationeither by engaging in paid jo
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