Emotion regulation in children with an anxiety disorder: the role of parent factors
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 00:58 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.