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                                            CHAPTER ONE




Adolescence is a complex period that may involve  stress which makes  adolescent to face many challenges in life. It is a transition period during which adolescents learn many new habits, behaviours and give up some old habits. Sometimes becoming an easy prey to emotional instability and may exhibit  violent behaviours at home and at school; due to lack of control in expressing views and opinions, lack of understanding their parents and teachers. All these pose a major threat to the positive development in adolescents. (Rajeswari & Jeryda Gnanajane Eljo, 2013).

For many parents,  adolescent period can seem like a whirlwind of rapidly changing emotions. In fact, some earlier theories about adolescent development proposed that “storm and stress” was to be expected, and suggested adolescents characteristically tended to over-react to everyday situations. However, more recent research refutes the above as outdated notion. Developmental experts (Larson & Ham, 1993) have since learned that what may appear as “storm and stress” is actually the natural outcome of youth learning to cope with a much larger array of new and unfamiliar situations..

According to Sharma (2016) emotions may hamper the studies of students. In some adolescents emotions may lead to crimes, because people lose reasoning power and their ability to control behaviour is hampered. Hence, emotional control and management is very essential for an adjusted life. Researchers have clarified the role of parents in psychological adjustment of adolescents. Specifically, mother’s negative emotional responses contribute in developing sensitivity to negative emotional responses which, in turn, deteriorate the perception of positive emotion and reduce the capability of expecting positive emotional responsiveness in societal interactions (Sheeber, Hops, & Davis, 2001; Morris, Silk, Steinberg, Myers,& Robinson, 2007).

Acoording to  Anu  (2014)  When needs arise, especially in new or changed surroundings, they impel interpersonal activity meant to satisfy those needs. In this way, adolescents increase their familiarity and comfort with their environments, and they come to expect that their needs will be met in the future through their social networks, and psychological changes. A sequence of adjustment begins when a need is felt and ends when it is satisfied.  Kulshrestha (1979) explained that the adjustment process is a way in which the individual attempts to deal with stress, tensions, conflicts, and meet his or her needs. In this process, the individual also makes efforts to maintain harmonious relationships with the environment.

Adjustment, in psychology, refers to the behavioral process by which humans such as adolescents and other animals maintain equilibrium among their various needs or between their needs and the obstacles of their environmental  adjustment (Searle & Ward 1990). This implies that the individual and the environment are two important factors in adjustment (Ugodulunwa & Anakwe 2012).

Emotional adjustment (also referred to as personal adjustment or psychological adjustment) is the maintenance of emotional equilibrium in the face of internal and external stressors. This is facilitated by cognitive processes of acceptance and adaptation. An example would be maintaining emotional control and coping behavior in the face of an identity crisis This capacity is an important aspect of mental health and where it is compromised, or not developed, psychopathology and mental disorder can result. There are many instances where even highly intelligent people fail to manage their emotions and some average intelligent persons manage their emotions effectively and harmoniously, (Sharma, 2016).

One varieable related to emotional adjustment is attachment style

Attachment refers to an intense emotional relationship between parent and child that begins at birth and endures over a long period of time. The earliest steps of social development center on the very first human bond that is between infants and caregiver usually the mother. Indeed this bond known as attachment between infants and their caregiver is sometimes said to lay the foundations for all later relationships in life. From a very early age children are learning about the social world developing their expectations of how others will behave, and learning to read the signals that others provide. Across these same months children are forming their first social relationship. This is evident as infants begin to show a pattern known as separation anxiety in which they become visibly upset when their mother or care giver leaves the room. This is a powerful indication that the infant has formed an attachment to the care giver, that is a strong enduring emotional bond and which follow till adolescents.

At infant mothers provide the children with food, warmth and physical protection forming basis for attachment indicating that adolescents beginning from infants form attachment  that helps their emotional adjustment. But in contrast attachment seems to grow out of  psychological comfort the mother provides an adolescent during  infancy. The idea that attachment depends on comfort was central to the thinking of a British psychiatrist John Bowlby, who argued that adolescents become attached to a caregiver because the adult provides a secure base for the adolescent; a relationship in which the adolescent feels safe and protected. Adolescents use the secure base as a haven in times of stress or treat and according to Bowlby this provides the adolescent with the sense of safety to explore and learn because they know that if the going gets tough they can always return to the secure base (Waters &Cummings,2000).

Bowlby (1988) suggested that when  children develop a secure attachment to their primary caregiver, they develop an internal  working model and sense of self worth that serves as guide for social interaction and contribute to positive experiences in their relationship with others.

Taking a relational perspective in the connection between parents and adolescents, it is crucial to determine how the attachment feelings obtained from parental attachment are associated with emotional well being and adjustment among adolescents  (Ercan , 2010). Attachment to parent in adolescence has been explicitly considered in many studies that provide empirical evidence for the link between parental attachment and psychological well-being and adjustment in adolescence. For instance, secure individuals are more optimistic in the face of threats, more comfortable, seeking support when under stress, use more constructive coping strategies, and have more trusting beliefs about the goodwill of others (Shaver & Hazan, 1993). In addition, Armsden & Greenberg (1987) revealed that parental attachment contributed positively to self-esteem and life satisfaction and negatively to a measure of anxiety, depression and feelings of alienation, and also appeared to enhance adolescents’ well-being by increasing their self-esteem and diminishing feelings of depression.

Researchers like Ainsworth & Bell, (1970); Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, &Wall, (1978) developed a straightforward procedure which is known as strange situation for assessing attachment.  They developed a system for identifying and describing individual differences in attachment among mothers and infants. They found that infants differed in the way they handled the stress of being left alone by their mother in a strange situation. A laboratory room equipped with a host of novel toys The majority of infants called securely attached, became somewhat subdued or distressed in their mother’s absence but expressed warm, relieved greetings and were  quickly soothed by her when she returned (Ainsworth et al,1978). The remaining infants who Ainsworth et al (1978) called insecurely attached coped in two strikingly different ways.  Some labeled anxious-ambivalent protested and cried when their mothers left  as well as while they were gone. They acknowledged their mother’s return and sought to be held but surprisingly, (given their obvious distress at their departure) continued to seem angry and distraught when they tried to calm them.

The third group, called avoidant, seemed undisturbed by their mother’s departure and cool if not disinterested. When the mothers returned they did not seek physical cuddling or comforting and appeared to be prematurely self reliant. Several studies of adults reviewed by Shaver& Clark, (1994) have found that anxious-ambivalent infants are highly expressive of anger. Anxious-ambivalent infants are also more likely to express anxiety and distress, if, for example, they are  briefly left alone by mother during the strange situation test. Thus, it is expected that they may turn into  anxious adolescents, and compared with their secure and avoidant counterparts, they are expected to report higher levels of anger and hostility, as well as higher levels of other negative emotions such as anxiety and depression. Theoretically, avoidants are also distressed, but they have learned to deny or suppress negative emotions, especially anger, because in early childhood, emotional expression increased the likelihood of caregiver rejection (Main &Weston,1982).

A growing number of researchers have become interested in the framework that parent-adolescent attachment relationship is related to well-being and adjustment of adolescents. A  body of literature indicates that secure attachment relationships are associated with consistent and long-term benefits for psychological well being and adjustment. For instance, a longitudinal study showed that adolescents with histories of secure attachment patterns were more competent, emotionally healthy, self-confident, and socially skilled than anxiously attached children (Elicker, Englund, & Sroufe, 1992). Similarly, another  longitudinal investigation was carried out to determine the role of parental attachment and its effects on adjustment (Doyle & Markiewicz, 2005). In the study, perceived parental attachment was evaluated among adolescents from 13 years of age to 15 years of age and various aspects of adjustment such as depressive symptoms, self-esteem…etc. The results of the study revealed that attachment to parents was associated to adjustment with regard to levels of internalizing problems, self-esteem, and reported school achievement. Thus, researchers concluded that attachment security influences  adolescents’ adjustment.

 Self evaluation which is also known as appraisal in psychology is linked to emotional adjustment it states that  emotions are extracted from our evaluations (appraisals or estimates) of events that cause specific reactions in different adolescents. Essentially, people’s appraisal of a situation causes an emotional, or affective, response  based on that appraisal. An example  is going on a first date. If the date is perceived as positive, people might feel happy, joy, giddiness,  excitement, and/or anticipation, because they  appraised this event as one that could have positive long-term effects, that is starting a new relationship, engagement, or even marriage. On the other hand, if the date is perceived negatively, then our emotions, as a result, might include dejection, sadness, emptiness, or fear. (Scherer,  Schorr & Johnstone, 2001).

Reasoning and understanding of one’s emotional reaction becomes important for future appraisals as well. The important aspect of the appraisal theory is that it accounts for individual variances of emotional reactions to the same event.

Bucholtz said, “Remind them constantly  about how they can achieve anything that they want to,” and  Ryan emphasized the importance of “giving them enough love and  praise so that they feel good about themselves, and then  they  can go and master the world.” (Miller, Wang, Sandel, & Cho,2002 p 23 )

This quote epitomizes the popular belief that feeling good about  self  is a key to fulfilling one’s potentials. Accordingly, praise and positive feedback should be generously dispensed to children, students, employees, colleagues, and friends to make them feel  good about themselves. This folk theory, aside from being widely

publicized in media of public culture, is also widely practiced  (Miller, Fung, & Mintz, 1996; Miller, Wiley, Fung, & Liang, 1997; Brophy, 1981; Koestner, Zuckerman, & Koestner, 1987).  Many parents also feel compelled to make their children feel good about themselves by praising their abilities (Mueller & Dweck,1996).

Many researchers have proven that the life of an adolescent is filled with stress and storm which makes them  face many challenges in life like how to make friends and keep them, how to relate with the outside world and how they are able to manage their failure or success in school, and the management of all these and more depends on their attachment style that is the kind of relationship they had with their caregiver or the way they perceived their caregiver at earlier years. Emotional adjustment can be achieved among adolescents through proper enlightening of parents or caregivers and secondary school teachers, also the issue of attachment style and self evaluation needs to be put into account in order to know how to handle issues or deviant behaviors that rise among adolescents due to maladjustment of emotions and also to know how to help such adolescents adjust properly.


Statement of the Problem

Despite previous research  findings some adolescents still find it difficult to adapt to their environment and relate freely with others both in school and at home. Particularly  their performance in school  suffers, implying that the main cause of the problem have not been found. For example, there are some maladaptive  behaviors among adolescents which probably is as a result of emotional adjustment. Therefore this study seeks to find out if attachment style and self evaluation are contributing factors to the emotional adjustment of an adolescent.

Therefore the present study aims at addressing the following problems;

  1. Would Attachment style statistically significantly predict emotional adjustment among adolescents?
  2. Would self evaluation statistically significantly predict emotional adjustment among adolescents?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the present study is to find out whether:

  1. Secure attachment style would statistically significantly predict emotional adjustment among adolescents.
  2. Self evaluation would statistically significantly predict emotional adjustment among adolescents.


Significance of the Study

The study have both theoretical and practical significance.

Theoretically the present study contributes to the knowledge of the existing literature on the importance of proper emotional adjustment among adolescents and teenagers. Also the problem of deviant behavior, poor performance in class and inability to relate well with others due to poor adjustment to emotions would be solved.

Practically it will assist parents, caregivers, secondary school teachers adolescents and guidance and counselors to enlighten and educate students on how to properly manage their emotions in other to reduce the rate of stress that poor emotional adjustment can cause.


Operational Definition of Terms

Attachment style: Attachment refers to a bond existing between adolescents and parents which defines their relationship both with parents and others,which can bear a positive or negative effect.

Self evaluation: it is defined as the way a person perceives or values oneself and how one assumes or thinks others see or values one.

Emotional adjustment: this is defined as how an individual comes to terms with his psychological needs in various circumstances in order to attain emotional equilibrium or balance.





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