This is supported by the fact that continuous focusing on and solving of developmental problems seems to be the rule, whereas failure in the coping process is comparatively rare. Adolescence can profitably be seen as a period of successful coping, and of productive adaptation. The adolescent is confronted with many different changes and is able to adapt to these changes in a constructive fashion, and in a way that results in developmental advance. Considering the large variety of tasks and problems encountered, adolescence is characterized by impressively effective coping in the majority of young people, a fact that has been widely neglected.
Coping is the effort to manage (i.e., master, reduce, minimize) environmental and internal demands and conflicts which tax or exceed a person's resources and this shows that coping is a hypothetical construct that is sufficiently complex to take into account both person-specific and situation-specific aspects. Stressors and social resources are also two important concepts. The significance of coping behavior is evident in resiliency research showing that it is coping that makes the difference in both the adaptational outcome and in research on symptomatology, illustrating that the most reliable predictor for mental health is not so much a lack of symptoms, but the competence with which age-specific developmental tasks are handled (Compas & Hammen 1993)
Stress and Adolescents
More than any other developmental period, adolescence has been characterized in the psychological and sociological literatures as fraught with struggles that are both intrapersonal and interpersonal in nature. In the intrapersonal domain, adolescence has been described as a period in which identity formation is a central developmental task. Achieving a sense of personal autonomy and an identity that is separate from the family is of utmost importance. Significant interpersonal tasks during adolescence are thought to include increased involvement with the peer group balanced against continued attachment to the family.
Adolescence is a period in which relationships outside of the family multiply, take on new meanings, and deepen in intensity. These new bonds broaden and enrich the world of the adolescent, but also carry with them the increased possibility for loss, rejection, and conflict. Adolescents tend to become acutely aware of their status in the peer society, and pressures to conform to the norms of the peer group peak in mid-adolescence. The emotional intensity of friendships increases over earlier years; adolescents may entrust their friends with their deepest secrets, expecting that the trust will be upheld. Because of the increased intensity of friendships, adolescents may suffer more than younger children when there is a break in a relationship, for example, when a friend moves away or they move away from a friend. Further, adolescents gradually begin to explore intimate, sexual relationships, and with these may come new found fears as well as a heightened risk of emotional rejection (Offer & Offer, 1975).
At the same time that adolescents are opening up new possibilities in the world of friendships and intimate relationships, family relationships generally retain their importance as sources of both support and stress. Although adolescence has been conceptualized as a stormy period for family relationships, research has now documented that in fact family relationships during this period tend not to be conflict-ridden overall In the course of developing increased autonomy and breaking old dependencies on parents, adolescents increasingly assert their own opinions and