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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Documenting the experiences of Chinese adolescents in Shanghai : familial relationships, pressures, and coping strategies Wu, Qi


In 1979, to reduce a rapidly growing population, China implemented a one-child policy restricting new families to one child. Since then, educators, psychologists and sociologists have studied the social and emotional development of Chinese only children. At present, controversy exists regarding the positive and negative influences of being an only child on Chinese adolescents' development. Early research focused on cognitive and academic achievement and neglected to examine social and emotional development. While more recent research is aimed at exploring the social and emotional development of only children, this research is largely quantitative and reflects assessment measures. Qualitative research that elicits the experiences of adolescents is urgently needed. This research addressed the research gap in the current literature in the areas of social and emotional development and Chinese adolescents as only children by eliciting the unique perspective of adolescents. Their experiences were documented through qualitative interviews that elicited their perspectives on social relationships with parents and extended family members, as well as perspectives on pressure and coping strategies. This investigation identified significant themes for Chinese educators, policy-makers and parents. For example, adolescents experienced the love and support of their parents and noted that parents played significant roles; adolescents experienced pressures related to academics, exams and parental expectations, and; some adolescents adopted an active coping strategy to manage their pressures, while some used an avoidant coping strategy to dodge their pressures. Recommendations based on the research findings that are unique to China's social context are made.

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