Young adolescents' perceptions of specific ways in which an older sibling socializes help seeking
University of New Brunswick
Help seeking refers to the act of turning to others for advice, support, or assistance with a problem (Gourash, 1978; Rickwood & Braithwaite, 1994). However, little is known about how youths are socialized to manage problems or how family members, such as siblings, may socialize this coping behaviour. Guided by Kliewer and colleagues' (1994, 1996) model of family socialization of coping, the present study evaluated whether younger adolescents' perceptions of an older sibling's modeling of help seeking, coaching of help seeking, and positive features of the family context (i.e., family cohesion, mother-adolescent warmth, father-adolescent warmth) predicted their help seeking from that sibling; and whether the gender constellation of the sibling dyad and qualities of the sibling relationship (e.g., warmth, conflict) moderated the associations between these three mechanisms of socialization and help seeking from an older sibling. Adolescents (103 girls, 64 boys) with an older sibling living at home and who were attending New Brunswick middle schools completed a survey at home and returned it by mail. Results indicated that younger adolescents accessed their older sibling for help infrequently. In addition, younger adolescents' perceptions of their older sibling's modeling of and coaching of help seeking, and a more positive family context (i.e., family cohesion), predicted more frequent help seeking from that sibling. Multiple significant two-way interactions indicated that the gender constellation of the sibling dyad (i.e., girl-girl dyads versus. girl-boy, boy-girl, and boy-boy dyads) moderated the relationships between a positive family context (i.e., family cohesion, mother-adolescent warmth, father-adolescent warmth) and more frequent help seeking from an older sibling. Sibling warmth also moderated the relationships between an older sibling's modeling of and coaching of help seeking and more frequent help seeking from that sibling. These results provide support for extending Kliewer's model to include older siblings and demonstrate that older siblings contribute to young adolescents' use of help-seeking as a coping strategy in direct and indirect ways. Implications for Kliewer's model of family socialization of coping and for prevention and intervention programs aimed at improving adolescents' coping are discussed.