Parent-Child Interactions and Anxiety Disorders: An Observational Study

Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Behaviour Research and Therapy (Impact Factor: 3.85). 01/2002; 39(12):1411-1427. DOI: 10.1016/S0005-7967(00)00107-8


Past research has indicated a potential link between anxiety and parenting styles that are characterised by control and rejection. However, few studies have utilised observational methods to support these findings. In the current study, mother–child interactions were observed while the child completed two difficult cognitive tasks. The sample consisted of clinically anxious children (n=43), oppositional defiant children (n=20) and non-clinical children (n=32). After adjusting for the age and sex of the child, mothers of anxious children and mothers of oppositional children displayed greater and more intrusive involvement than mothers of non-clinical children. Mothers of anxious children were also more negative during the interactions than mothers of non-clinical children. The differences between anxious and non-clinical interactions were equivalent across three separate age groups. The results support the relationship between an overinvolved parenting style and anxiety but question the specificity of this relationship.

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    • "Overcontrolling parental behaviours include excessive regulation of children's activities and routines, overprotection, or instruction to the child on how to Contents lists available at ScienceDirect journal homepage: think or feel (Wood et al., 2003), and are hypothesised to promote child anxiety by limiting the child's development of mastery and autonomy (e.g., Hudson and Rapee, 2001). Parental expressed anxiety includes describing or encouraging children to view problems as catastrophic, irresolvable or dangerous (Wood et al., 2003), and behaving in a manner likely to alert children to threat in their environment (e.g., Gerull and Rapee, 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: High levels of parental anxiety are associated with poor treatment outcomes for children with anxiety disorders. Associated parental cognitions and behaviours have been implicated as impediments to successful treatment. We examined the association between parental responsibility beliefs, maternal anxiety and parenting behaviours in the context of childhood anxiety disorders. Methods: Anxious and non-anxious mothers of 7-12 year old children with a current anxiety disorder reported their parental responsibility beliefs using a questionnaire measure. Parental behaviours towards their child during a stressor task were measured. Results: Parents with a current anxiety disorder reported a greater sense of responsibility for their child's actions and wellbeing than parents who scored within the normal range for anxiety. Furthermore, higher parental responsibility was associated with more intrusive and less warm behaviours in parent-child interactions and there was an indirect effect between maternal anxiety and maternal intrusive behaviours via parental responsibility beliefs. Limitations: The sample was limited to a treatment-seeking, relatively high socio-economic population and only mothers were included so replication with more diverse groups is needed. The use of a range of stressor tasks may have allowed for a more comprehensive assessment of parental behaviours. Conclusions: The findings suggest that parental anxiety disorder is associated with an elevated sense of parental responsibility and may promote parental behaviours likely to inhibit optimum child treatment outcomes. Parental responsibility beliefs may therefore be important to target in child anxiety treatments in the context of parental anxiety disorders.
    Journal of Affective Disorders 09/2015; 188:127-133. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2015.08.059 · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    • "First, self-report measures were used in the present study. Integrating multi-method approaches such as interviews for clinical symptoms and sociometric (Prinstein 2007) or observational data (Hudson and Rapee 2001) for interpersonal functioning is important for future research. With specific regard to interpersonal functioning , utilizing self-reports only allowed for inferences concerning youth perceptions of positive and negative relationships , as opposed to the actual quality of the relationship. "
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    ABSTRACT: Independent lines of research illustrate the benefits of social support and the negative consequences of conflict and emotional neglect across family and peer contexts with regard to depression. However, few studies have simultaneously examined negative and positive interactions across relationships. We sought to address this gap in the literature by utilizing a person-centered approach to a) understand empirical, interpersonal profiles in youth and b) understand how these profiles confer risk for prospective depression. At baseline, 678 youth (380 females; 298 males) 3rd (N = 208), 6th (N = 245), and 9th graders (N = 225) completed self-report measures for self-perceived negative/positive relationships across family and peers, anxiety symptoms, and depressive symptoms in a laboratory setting. Next, youth were called every 3 months for 18 months and completed self-report depressive and anxiety symptom forms. Two-step cluster analyses suggested that children and adolescents fell into one of three interpersonal clusters, labeled: Support, Conflict, and Neglect. Our analyses supported a convergence model in which the quality of relationship was consistent across peers and family. Furthermore, mixed-level modeling (MLM) findings demonstrated that youth in the Conflict cluster were at increased risk for prospective depressive symptoms, while the Supported and Neglected profiles demonstrated similar symptom levels. Findings were unique to depressive symptoms and consistent across sex and age. Conflict seemed to uniquely confer risk for depression as findings concerning anxiety were not significant. These findings influence our interpersonal conceptualization of depression as well as clinical implications for how to assess and treat depression in youth.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 04/2015; 43(8). DOI:10.1007/s10802-015-0023-x · 3.09 Impact Factor
    • "When parents constantly save their children from negative consequences, children do not learn to overcome failure (Kantrowitz & Tyre, 2006). Overprotective parenting may be associated with psychological maladjustment (McLeod, Wood, & Weisz, 2007; Muris, Meesters, & van den Berg, 2003), such as anxiety (Hudson & Rapee, 2001) and low self-worth (Laible & Carlo, 2004). The term helicopter parenting has now become a common term in many industries, including education and the media, to refer to an overbearing caregiving style regardless of the child's age. "
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    ABSTRACT: Helicopter parenting, an observed phenomenon on college campuses, may adversely affect college students. The authors examined how helicopter parenting is related to self-efficacy and peer relationships among 190 undergraduate students ages 16 to 28 years. Helicopter parenting was associated with low self-efficacy, alienation from peers, and a lack of trust among peers. Implications are provided for counselors and psychologists in college- and university-based counseling centers to help them to understand and provide assessment and treatment for adult children of helicopter parents.
    Journal of College Counseling 04/2015; 18(1):7-20. DOI:10.1002/j.2161-1882.2015.00065.x
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