An Investigation of Control Among Parents of Selectively Mute, Anxious, and Non-Anxious Children

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
Child Psychiatry and Human Development (Impact Factor: 1.93). 12/2010; 42(3):270-90. DOI: 10.1007/s10578-010-0214-1
Source: PubMed


The authors examined parent–child interactions among three groups: selectively mute, anxious, and non-anxious children in different contexts. The relation between parental control (granting autonomy and high power remarks), child factors (i.e., age, anxiety, verbal participation), and parent anxiety was investigated. Parental control varied by context but parents of children with SM were more controlling than parents in the comparison groups in all contexts. Regression analyses indicated that child and parent anxiety predicted parental control, with increased anxiety associated with increased control. Older child age predicted less parent control. Group categorization moderated the relation between age and high power remarks, such that age was not a significant predictor for children with SM. Finally child-initiated speaking predicted high power remarks over and above other variables. These results support previous theories that parents take over for their children when they fail to meet performance demands, especially when the child or parent is anxious.

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    • "Third, we did not assess the socio-economic status of our participants with standardized scales or annual family income. Clinical groups often have less favorable economic resources than typically developing controls, and statistically significant differences or tendencies for those with lower economical levels have been demonstrated in previous studies with children with SM (Kristensen, 2000, 2001; Carbone et al., 2010; Cunningham et al., 2004; Edison et al., 2011; Nowakowski et al., 2009, 2011). Some prior studies controlled the income level as a possible confounder in their analyses. "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study investigated emotional and behavioral problems in children with selective mutism (SM) along with the psychological adjustment and parenting attitudes of their mothers and fathers. Participants included 26 children with SM (mean age=8.11±2.11 years), 32 healthy controls (mean age=8.18±2.55 years) and the parents of all children. Children with SM displayed higher problem scores than controls in a variety of emotional and behavioral parameters. They predominantly displayed internalizing problems, whereas aggressive and delinquent behavior was described among a subsample of the children. Significant differences existed between the SM and control groups only in paternal psychopathology, which included anxiety and depression. They did not differ with respect to maternal psychological distress or mother or father reported parental attitudes. Another important result of the present study was that the severity of emotional and behavioral problems of children with SM was correlated with maternal psychopathology but not paternal psychopathology.
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    ABSTRACT: It is now widely accepted that anxiety disorders run in families, and current etiological models have proposed both genetic and environmental pathways to anxiety development. In this paper, the familial role in the development, treatment, and prevention of anxiety disorders in children is reviewed. We focus on three anxiety disorders in youth, namely, generalized, separation, and social anxiety as they often co-occur both at the symptom and disorder level and respond to similar treatments. We begin by presenting an overview of a broad range of family factors associated with anxiety disorders. Findings from these studies have informed intervention and prevention strategies that are discussed next. Throughout the paper we shed light on the challenges that plague this research and look toward the future by proposing directions for much needed study and discussing factors that may improve clinical practice and outcomes for affected youth and their families.
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    ABSTRACT: Social phobia (SOP) and selective mutism (SM) are related anxiety disorders characterized by distress and dysfunction in social situations. SOP typically onsets in adolescence and affects about 8% of the general population, whereas SM onsets before age 5 and is prevalent in up to 2% of youth. Prognosis includes a chronic course that confers risk for other disorders or ongoing social disability, but more favorable outcomes may be associated with young age and low symptom severity. SOP treatments are relatively more established, whereas dissemination of promising and innovative SM-treatment strategies is needed.
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