Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 1099–1111 | Cite as

Children’s Coping Strategies to Inter-Parental Conflict: The Moderating Role of Attachment

  • Elena Camisasca
  • Sarah Miragoli
  • Paola Di Blasio
  • John Grych
Original Paper


In the literature on inter-parental conflict, little attention has been paid to the relationships among children’s attachment, coping strategies, and coping efficacy. The present study aims to explore whether and how children’s Internal Working Models of attachment moderate the associations among children’s perceived distress during the conflict, coping strategies, and coping efficacy. One hundred eighty-two school-aged children (87 secure, 46 anxious-ambivalent and 49 avoidant) and their parents completed measures of inter-parental conflict, attachment, coping strategies, and coping efficacy. The results indicate that children with different IWMs varied in the relations between coping strategies and coping efficacy. More precisely, the data show that secure children, when distressed, use the all of the coping strategies investigated, but the only ones that mediate the associations between their distress reactions and perceived coping efficacy were the positive cognitive restructuring strategies and the seeking support for feelings strategies. Avoidant children, when distressed, use higher levels of distraction and avoidance strategies and avoidance strategies mediated the effects of the children’s distress reactions on their coping inefficacy. Finally, anxious-ambivalent children, when distressed, activate all the coping strategies, with the exception of distraction and support for feelings. However, none of the strategies are correlated to their perceived coping efficacy.


Marital conflict Coping strategies Attachment Coping efficacy Children 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

Compliance with Ethical Standards by the Ethic Committee of Catholic University of Milan.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Università Telematica e-CampusNovedrateItaly
  2. 2.C.R.I.d.e.e., Psychology DepartmentCatholic University of the Sacred HeartMilanItaly
  3. 3.Marquette UniversityMilwaukeeUSA

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