Research Review: The relation between child and parent anxiety and parental control: a meta-analytic review

Department of Educational Sciences, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 5.67). 04/2008; 49(12):1257-69. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2008.01898.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT There is growing research interest in the association between parental control and child anxiety. Parental control may enhance child anxiety and parents may exert control in anticipation of their child's anxiety-related distress. Moreover, high levels of anxiety in parents could influence the development of parental control. Whereas past reviews have solely examined the relation between child anxiety and parental control, this meta-analysis focuses on the associations between both child and parent anxiety and parental control.
The associations of parent anxiety and child anxiety with observed parental control (k = 23 studies, N = 1,305 parent-child dyads) were investigated using a meta-analytic approach. Moreover, factors were identified that may function as moderators of these relations, such as parent and child gender, family socioeconomic status, child age, and design and measurement characteristics.
A substantial association between child anxiety and parental control (d = .58) was found. Moderator analyses yielded the strongest effect sizes for studies with an overrepresentation of girls, for school-aged children, for families from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, and for studies using a discussion task to assess parental control. Although a nonsignificant relation was found for the relation between parent anxiety and parental control (d = .08), small but significant effects were found for school-aged children, for studies using a discussion task to assess parental control, and for samples with an overrepresentation of boys.
As the direction of the association between child anxiety and parental control is unknown, future studies should use experimental designs to further explore the causal link between child anxiety and parental control.

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    • "The operationalization of the other subcomponent of overcontrol reported in McLeod et al., namely autonomy granting (defined as parental encouragement and acknowledgment of children's choices, solutions, and opinions and choices) overlaps more with our construct of challenging parenting behavior, which is in accordance with our findings regarding challenging parenting behavior. Of note, the positive associations between overinvolvement and child anxiety that were reported in the two meta-analyses (McLeod et al. 2007; Van der Bruggen et al. 2008), were almost entirely obtained from cross-sectional studies and not from longitudinal designs controlling for begin-level of child social anxiety, as we did. This suggests that challenging parenting behavior, and not overinvolvement , may cause or maintain child social anxiety. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent models on parenting propose different roles for fathers and mothers in the development of child anxiety. Specifically, it is suggested that fathers' challenging parenting behavior, in which the child is playfully encouraged to push her limits, buffers against child anxiety. In this longitudinal study, we explored whether the effect of challenging parenting on children's social anxiety differed between fathers and mothers. Fathers and mothers from 94 families were separately observed with their two children (44 % girls), aged 2 and 4 years at Time 1, in three structured situations involving one puzzle task and two games. Overinvolved and challenging parenting behavior were coded. Child social anxiety was measured by observing the child's response to a stranger at Time 1, and half a year later at Time 2, and by parental ratings. In line with predictions, father's challenging parenting behavior predicted less subsequent observed social anxiety of the 4-year-old child. Mothers' challenging behavior, however, predicted more observed social anxiety of the 4-year-old. Parents' overinvolvement at Time 1 did not predict change in observed social anxiety of the 4-year-old child. For the 2-year-old child, maternal and paternal parenting behavior did not predict subsequent social anxiety, but early social anxiety marginally did. Parent-rated social anxiety was predicted by previous parental ratings of social anxiety, and not by parenting behavior. Challenging parenting behavior appears to have favorable effects on observed 4-year-old's social anxiety when displayed by the father. Challenging parenting behavior emerges as an important focus for future research and interventions.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 06/2013; 42(2). DOI:10.1007/s10802-013-9774-4 · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    • "However no mothers were included in this study. A meta-analysis by Van der Bruggen et al. (2008) also provides tentative support for the idea that paternal rearing is important in child anxiety. That is, the association between parental control and child anxiety was stronger in studies that did include father (n = 5, d = .84) "
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the associations between the parenting dimensions autonomy granting, over control, and rejection and children's anxiety, in relation to parent and child gender and child age. Elementary school-aged children (n = 179, M(age) = 10.27, SD = 1.30), adolescents (n = 127, M(age) = 15.02, SD = 1.54) and both their parents completed questionnaires on parenting and children's anxiety. Parenting was more strongly related to child anxiety in elementary school children than in adolescents. Maternal over control was uniquely related to elementary school-aged children's anxiety whereas paternal over control was more important during adolescence. Opposite to our expectations, we found higher levels of parental autonomy granting to be related to higher levels of anxiety for younger elementary school-aged children (age < 10). For adolescents, the association between paternal over control and anxiety was stronger for older adolescents (age > 15), with higher levels of over control related to higher levels of anxiety. For both elementary school-aged children and adolescents, the associations between parenting and child anxiety did not differ as a function of the child's gender. If we are to understand the associations between parenting and children's anxiety, it is important to distinguish parental autonomy granting from parental over control and to consider the role of parent gender and the age of the child.
    Journal of Child and Family Studies 04/2012; 21(2):331-343. DOI:10.1007/s10826-011-9483-y · 1.42 Impact Factor
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    • "We developed a coding scheme for parenting that was applicable to all three tasks, and that was informed by the wider literature (McLeod, et al., 2007; van der Bruggen et al, 2008), and our previous findings (Murray et al., 2007; 2008). Dimensions comprised expressed anxiety (i.e. "
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    ABSTRACT: There has been increasing research interest in parenting by anxious adults; however, little is known about anxiety-subtype effects, or effects of the context in which parenting is assessed. Two groups of anxious mothers, social phobia (N = 50), generalised anxiety disorder (N = 38), and nonanxious controls (N = 62) were assessed with their 4.9-year-old children in three tasks: two presented threat specifically relevant to each maternal disorder, namely, a social threat task where the child had to give a speech, and a nonsocial threat task where the child had to explore potentially scary objects; the third was a nonthreat task (playing with play dough). Seven parenting dimensions were scored. Effects on parenting of maternal anxiety subgroup and task, and their interactions, were examined, as were effects of earlier child behavioural inhibition and currently manifest anxiety. There were no parenting differences between maternal groups in the nonthreat play-dough task; parenting difficulties in the two anxious groups were principally evident in the disorder-specific challenge. Parenting differences between nonanxious and anxious mothers occurred independently of child characteristics. There was little evidence for particular forms of parenting difficulty being unique to maternal disorder. Anxious mothers' parenting difficulties emerge when occurring under challenge, especially when this is disorder-specific. These effects should be considered in research and clinical practice.
    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 02/2012; 53(2):188-96. DOI:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02473.x · 5.67 Impact Factor
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