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: 6.46). 04/2008; 49(12):1257-69. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2008.01898.x
Source: PubMed


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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    • "Specifically, as particular parental behaviours are more likely to occur in the context of elevated child state anxiety (e.g., Creswell et al., 2013; Hudson et al., 2008) and in performance, rather than discussion based, tasks (van der Bruggen et al., 2008), we used a well-established challenging performance task to induce a mild degree of stress in the children (a social speech task; e.g., Gar and Hudson, 2008), and took into account potential group differences in children's expressed anxiety. In addition, previous studies have found stronger associations between parental anxiety and parental controlling behaviours when precisely defined behaviours are assessed , rather than more general categories (Murray et al., 2012; van der Bruggen et al., 2008). Thus, we assessed specific dimensions of behaviour that have previously been linked to parental anxiety using an established coding scheme (e.g., Creswell et al., 2013; Murray et al., 2012). "
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Journal of Affective Disorders
    • "Table 2Results of regression analyses with anxiety as dependent and parental rearing behavior, attachment security, age and gender as predictors.Fathers have been somewhat ignored in the research on childhood anxiety. In a recent meta-analysis on observational studies concerning the role of parental control in child anxiety, only one out of 22 studies concerned fathers and only 8 concerned mixed father and mother sample, with and overrepresentation of mothers (Van derBruggen, Stams, & Bögels, 2008). However, a few studies have examined the father's role in the etiology of childhood anxiety and found that fathers play an important and different role in childhood anxiety than mothers. "
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    ABSTRACT: A few studies have examined the relative contribution of insecure attachment and negative parental rearing behaviors on childhood anxiety, but none have examined if insecure attachment mediates the association between negative parental rearing behavior and anxiety. The present study investigated the direct, as well as the indirect, relation between attachment to parents, parental rearing behaviors and anxiety symptoms in a sample of 1134 normal developing children and adolescent. Attachment relation was measured by the Security Scale (SEC), negative parental rearing behavior was measured by the Rearing Behavior Questionnaire (RBQ), and anxiety was assessed using the Screen for Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders-Revised (SCARED-R). We found, in accordance with previous research, that insecure attachment, maternal rejection and overprotection, each accounted for a significant proportion of the variance of anxiety symptoms. Another result was that insecure attachment was found to mediate the relationship between maternal psychological control and rejection, and anxiety symptoms. Findings are discussed with respect to future directions.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Personality and Individual Differences
    • "However, the effects found for parenting's relationship with children's internalizing symptoms have been modest. That is, four meta-analyses—one examining the relationship between parenting and child depression (McLeod et al. 2007a), two examining the relationship between parenting and child anxiety (McLeod et al. 2007b; van der Bruggen et al. 2008), and one examining the relationship between parenting and child anxiety, depression and internalizing symptoms (Yap and Jorm 2015)—reported effect sizes ranging from r = .06 to r = .42, "
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    ABSTRACT: Parenting behaviors are associated with children’s internalizing symptoms, however, it is not often examined which factors could possibly influence this relationship. The goals of this study were twofold. One goal was to examine whether the association between parenting and children’s internalizing symptoms would increase if parenting behaviors were assessed behaviorally and in a context where the child displayed specific anxious behaviors. Another goal was to examine whether this relationship was influenced by the age and gender of the child, and by possible parenting differences between mothers and fathers. These questions were examined in a sample of 211 children aged 4–12 years; 140 community children and 71 clinically referred anxious children. Parents completed questionnaires regarding children’s internalizing symptoms and parenting behaviors (positive reinforcement, punishment, force, reinforcement of dependency, and modeling/reassurance). In line with expectations, more punishment and less modeling/reassurance by parents were related to more internalizing symptoms in children. Child gender, child age, parent gender and clinical anxiety status were not found to influence the relationship between parenting and children’s internalizing symptoms. Our results suggest that paternal parenting is as important as maternal parenting with respect to children’s internalizing symptoms, and therefore, fathers could be included in child treatment as well.
    No preview · Article · May 2015 · Journal of Child and Family Studies
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