Parenting factors associated with children’s school-related anxiety: a preliminary study of parental overprotection and family accommodation
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 20:00 by Kate Ashley Davis
Childhood anxiety disorders are associated with significant distress and functional impairment that can lead to subsequent psychopathology persisting across the lifespan. Parental overprotection has been consistently implicated in the development and maintenance of childhood anxiety disorders. Similarly, family accommodation of anxious and avoidant child behaviours is linked with increased anxiety symptoms, lower functioning and poorer treatment outcomes in children with anxiety disorders. To date, the literature has largely focused on the relationship between parenting factors and associated child internalising distress and impairment within clinical populations, with minimal attention being given to pre-morbid or non-clinical samples experiencing heightened anxiety symptoms. This study examines the relationship between an overprotective parenting style and accommodating parental behaviours with children’s anxiety to stressors typically occurring within Australian primary schools. A sample of 52 male primary-school students between 8 and 11 years of age, and their parents were recruited from an independent primary school in a major Australian city. Self-report measures of parental overprotection and accommodation of children’s anxiety-related behaviours were analysed as predictors of children’s anxiety symptoms in relation to typical school-related stressors. Consistent with previous research within clinical populations, these results provide support for a moderate association between family accommodation and child anxiety related distress, although this relationship was not found when controlling for children’s trait anxiety. Parental overprotection was not found to be related to children’s anxiety symptoms in this study. Results are discussed with respect to models of child anxiety and empirical evidence regarding the roles of both child and parent factors in the development and maintenance of child anxiety. The limitations of the current study are reviewed and directions for further research are suggested.