Macquarie University
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Emotion regulation in children with an anxiety disorder: the role of parent factors

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posted on 2022-03-28, 00:58 authored by Katherine Hurrell
Childhood anxiety disorders are among the most common forms of psychopathology and confer significant psychosocial impairments to functioning. To enhance understanding of these disabling disorders, this thesis examined emotion regulation in clinically anxious children (ages 5-16) and the role of parental emotion socialisation practices. Chapter 2 presented a study on parental reactions to children’s negative emotions and child emotion regulation in a sample of 134 children. Results showed that mothers of anxious children espoused less supportive emotion socialisation practices than mothers of non-anxious children. Fathers overall were significantly less supportive than mothers when reacting to children’s emotions. Overall, anxious children were found to have greater difficulty managing negative emotions compared to non-anxious children. Parental emotion socialisation practices were associated with children’s emotion regulation. Chapter 3 reported an observational study on associations between supportive and non-supportive maternal reactions and mother and child anxiety (N = 89). Findings suggested that a combination of maternal and child anxiety status influenced levels of supportive reactions towards children, with nonanxious mothers displaying more support towards non-anxious children. Compared to interactions between non-anxious mothers’ and their children, anxious mothers displayed a less supportive and more non-supportive interaction style. Overall, nonsupportive maternal reactions were expressed more frequently towards anxious children. In chapter 4, a study was presented on parental meta-emotion philosophies, observed emotion coaching behaviours and child emotion regulation in a sample of 109 children. Compared to parents of non-anxious children, parents of anxious children were characterised by less emotion-coaching and were less aware of their own and children’s emotions, although this awareness varied by emotion type. Anxious children also evidenced greater difficulty regulating a range of negative emotions compared to non-anxious children. Finally, in chapter 5, child emotion regulation and parental emotion socalisation were examined as predictors of treatment outcome in 105 clinically anxious children. After controlling for initial anxiety severity, maternal nonsupportive reactions predicted symptom change, whilst child emotion dysregulation played a role in predicting both anxiety symptom change and remission. Taken together, this thesis extends our understanding of the role of familial factors in childhood anxiety disorders and child emotion functioning, with implications for treatment.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. General introduction -- Chapter 2.Parent reactions to children's negative emotions : relationships with emotion regulation in children with an anxiety disorder -- Chapter 3. Supportive and non-supportive maternal reactions to anxious children : an observational study -- Chapter 4. Parental meta-emotion philosophy and emotion coaching in families of children and adolescents with an anxiety disorder -- Chapter 5. Treatment outcome following cognitive behavioural therapy for childhood anxiety disorders : the influence of parental emotion socialisation and children's emotion -- Chapter 6. General discussion.


Includes bibliographical references At foot of title: Centre for Emotional Health, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney Australia. Thesis by publication.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jennifer L. Hudson


Copyright Katherine Hurrell 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




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