Macquarie University
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Challenging parenting behaviour and childhood anxiety disorders: a role for fathers?

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posted on 2022-03-29, 03:17 authored by Rebecca Skye Lazarus
The relationship between certain parenting behaviours and offspring anxiety has been the subject of extensive research. Whilst often described as parenting behaviours, the majority of research has focussed on mothers, ignoring the role of fathers. This thesis addresses this gap, exploring the relationship between father’s behaviours and childhood anxiety disorders via a novel parenting construct, termed ‘Challenging Parenting Behaviour’ (CPB). Paper 1 examined the relationship between recalled CPB and current adult anxiety. An exploratory factor analysis identified three latent constructs underlying adults’ recall of CPB; Social and Novelty CPB were associated with lower reported adult anxiety, and fathers’ Teasing CPB was related to increased adult anxiety. Extending upon these findings, Papers 2 and 3 examined the concurrent associations between CPB and childhood anxiety, whilst also considering the role of parental anxiety. Paper 2 identified that fathers reported to engage in more CPB than mothers, yet only mothers CPB was able to predict child anxiety diagnosis. Importantly, CPB from both caregivers was associated with reduced anxiety symptoms. Paper 3 developed a novel measure for assessing CPB, testing this measure on a sample of fathers. This study also examined the effect of fathers’ CPB on child risk-taking, and the relationship between fathers’ CPB and child behavioural inhibition (BI). Children took more risks when playing with their father than when alone. No evidence was found for a relationship between fathers’ CPB and BI, nor between CPB and anxiety, except for a partial relationship between a subdomain of CPB; rough-and-tumble play, and child anxiety diagnosis. Neither paper displayed evidence for a relationship between parent anxiety and CPB. Finally, Paper 4 evaluated the measurement invariance of a measure of CPB across Dutch and Australian mothers and fathers of preschool-aged children. The Australian sample of this study was drawn from Papers 2 and 3. There was evidence of partial scalar invariance, indicating that the groups differed on some subscales of the questionnaire. Importantly, CPB from mothers and fathers predicted fewer anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders for all groups. Taken together, the results of this thesis present unique information about fathers’ (and mothers’) CPB and its relation to offspring anxiety, suggesting that CPB may be associated with lower report of child anxiety.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. General introduction -- Chapter 2.Recalled challenging parenting behaviour and anxiety in adulthood : a retrospective cohort study -- Chapter 3. The relationship between challenging parenting behaviour and childhood anxiety disorders -- Chapter 4. Fathers’ challenging parenting behaviour and anxiety towards childhood anxiety disorders : a novel computerised task -- Chapter 5. The structure of challenging parenting behaviour and associations with anxiety in Dutch and Australian children -- Chapter 6. General discussion -- Appendices.


"Centre for Emotional Health, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia" -- title page. Includes bibliographical references Thesis by publication.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MClinPsych/PhD


MClinPsych/PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jennifer L. Hudson

Additional Supervisor 1

Lauren F. McLellan

Additional Supervisor 2

Helen Frances Dodd


Copyright Rebecca Skye Lazarus 2017. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (xiv, 263 pages) tables

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