Activation During Observed Parent-Child Interactions with Anxious Youths: A Pilot Study.

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment (Impact Factor: 1.55). 06/2011; 33(2):159-170. DOI: 10.1007/s10862-011-9216-y
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Parent-child interaction paradigms are often used to observe dysfunctional family processes; however, the influence of such tasks on a participant's level of activation remain unclear. The aim of this pilot project is to explore the stimulus value of interaction paradigms that have been commonly used in child anxiety research. Twenty-nine parent-child dyads with clinically anxious (n = 16) and non-anxious (n = 13) youths engaged in a series of tasks (threat and non-threat) used in previous studies of parenting and youth anxiety. Heart rate (HR) data, as an indicator of physiological activation, were collected across tasks, and participants rated the perceived representativeness of their interactions in the laboratory to their usual behavior at home. Significant HR changes were observed for both parent and child. Change in child HR from baseline to non-threat task was smaller than change in HR from baseline to threat tasks. Change in parent HR from baseline to ambiguous situations tasks was smaller than changes from baseline to other threat tasks. Differences in HR change between anxious and non-anxious children were explored. Participants rated laboratory interactions as similar to those experienced in the home. Results suggest that presumably emotionally-charged discussion tasks may produce increased activation compared to tasks that were designed to be more neutral. Implications for future research and limitations are discussed.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Previous research has shown that anxious adults provide more threat interpretations of ambiguous stimuli than other clinic and nonclinic persons. We were interested in investigating if the same bias occurs in anxious children and how family processes impact on these children's interpretations of ambiguity. Anxious, oppositional, and nonclinical children and their parents were asked separately to interpret and provide plans of action to ambiguous scenarios. Afterwards, each family was asked to discuss two of these situations as a family and for the child to provide a final response. The results showed that anxious and oppositional children were both more likely to interpret ambiguous scenarios in a threatening manner. However, the two clinic groups differed in that the anxious children predominantly chose avoidant solutions whereas the oppositional children chose aggressive solutions. After family discussions, both the anxious children's avoidant plans of action and the oppositional children's aggressive plans increased. Thus, this study provides the first evidence of family enhancement of avoidant and aggressive responses in children. These results support a model of anxiety that emphasizes the development of an anxious cognitive style in the context of anxiety-supporting family processes.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 05/1996; 24(2):187-203. · 3.09 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although there is evidence for the intergenerational transmission of anxiety disorders, there is little research in relation to specific parental disorders. This study evaluated three groups of mothers with at least one child aged 7-14, defined in terms of maternal obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD; n=23), panic disorder (n=18), and healthy controls (n=20). Parental perceptions and symptomatology, general and disorder-specific child symptoms and mother-child interactions were investigated using self-report, informant report and independent assessment. Mothers with OCD and panic disorder expressed high levels of concern about the impact of their anxiety disorder on their parenting. Group differences in terms of child anxiety were subtle rather than clinically significant. In interactions, anxious mothers were less warm and promoting of psychological autonomy than healthy controls, and they exhibited elevated expressed emotion. Overall, the results suggested a mix of effects including trans-diagnostic and disorder-specific issues. Implications for future research are discussed.
    Journal of anxiety disorders 05/2009; 23(7):848-57. · 2.68 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The present study investigated maternal coping behaviors in clinically anxious and control mothers during two mildly stressful parent-child interaction tasks. We hypothesized that anxious mothers would demonstrate decreased problem-focused and increased emotion-focused coping. We further expected that children of anxious mothers would also demonstrate decreased problem-focused coping, and that maternal anxiety would predict child coping. A total of 49 mother-child dyads participated in the present study. Anxious mothers engaged in significantly less adaptive coping (i.e., active coping, modeling) and significantly greater maladaptive coping (i.e., venting of emotion, negative emotion, discussion of emotion) than did non-anxious mothers. In addition, anxious mothers were rated by independent observers as less able to cope with the tasks. Children of the two groups did not differ with respect to type of coping displayed. Implications of these findings for the impact of parental anxiety on children are discussed, and directions for future research are proposed.
    Child & Family Behavior Therapy 11/2006; 28(4):59-80. · 0.67 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
Jun 10, 2014