Examining the Relation Between Anxious Parental Behaviors and Child Anxiety
View the poster >>
Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent psychiatric disorders among children and adults (Ballash, Leyfer, Buckley, & Woodruff-Borden, 2006; Lewinsohn, Gotlib, Lewinsohn, Seeley, & Allen, 1998; Schniering, Hudson, & Rapee, 2000). Recent prevalence rates for children with Anxiety Disorders ranged from 2.3% to 9.2%, with Separation Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia, Specific Phobia, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder as the most typical diagnoses (Becker, Becker, & Ginsburg, 2012; Costello, Egger, & Angold, 2004; Greenberg, Domitrovich, Bumbarger, 2001; Merikangas et al., 2010). Etiological theories identify several factors that increase the risk of developing an anxiety disorder including hereditary risk, negative life events, and family environment. Family aggregation studies show that children of parents with an anxiety disorder are 5-7 times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder than children of parents without an anxiety disorder (Ballash, Leyfer, Buckley, & Woodruff-Borden, 2006; Ginsburg, Grover, Ialongo, 2004). In looking at the potential influence of family, researchers have investigated several specific parenting behaviors theorized to be related to the transmission of anxiety from parent to child including: negativity, low affection, high criticism, modeling of anxious thinking (e.g., catastrophizing), low granting of autonomy (Hirshfeld, Biederman, Brody, Farane, & Rosenbaum, 1997; Turner, Beidel, Roberson-Nay, & Tervo, 2003; Whaley, Pinto, & Sigman, 1999; Whaley et al., 1999). Despite the abundance of research on childhood anxiety, there is still debate regarding the specific parenting behaviors that serve as primary risk factors of childhood anxiety.
The current study will look to further examine the relation between specific parent behaviors and child anxiety symptoms in children at high risk of developing an anxiety disorder. , The current study will analyze existing data from the Child Anxiety Prevention Study – Coping and Promoting Strengths (CAPS; Ginsburg, 2009). Participants included mothers (N = 136) who met criteria for an anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetime (as assessed by the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule – IV; Silverman & Albano, 1996) and children between the ages of 7-12, who did not meet criteria for an anxiety disorder. Participants were observed in a five-minute etch-a-sketch task that required the parent and child to collaboratively produce a series of difficult designs. Parent and child behaviors were coded each minute. The present study will use a within-subjects design to investigate the relation between parent behaviors (i.e., anxious behavior, over control, hostility, criticism, and granting autonomy) and child anxious behavior (e.g., overinvolved, fearful statements, self-doubt, catastrophizing, and perfectionistic behaviors). As parent and child behavior ratings occurred during each minute of the task, it is possible to examine child responses to parent behaviors minute by minute. Therefore, it is hypothesized that child anxious behavior ratings will be higher following minutes of high parent ratings of anxious behavior, over control, hostility, criticism, or granting autonomy. A series of related t-tests (one for each parent behavior) will be used to examine the differences in child anxious behavior ratings between minutes of high parent behavior and low parent behavior. . The current poster will present the study rationale, hypotheses, methodology, and data analysis plan. Eventually, findings may help explain the influence of parents on child anxiety and may highlight the need for more research on real-time parent-child interactions.