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07-02-2017 | Uitgave 2/2018 Open Access

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 2/2018

Father-Child and Mother-Child Interactions with Children with Anxiety Disorders: Emotional Expressivity and Flexibility of Dyads

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 2/2018
Auteurs:
Daniëlle Van der Giessen, Susan Maria Bögels

Abstract

This observational study examined whether emotional expressivity and emotional flexibility differed between parent-child dyads with and without children with an anxiety disorder (AD). Effects of parents’ own AD on emotional expressivity and flexibility of dyads was also studied. The sample consisted of 128 referred children (59.4% girls) with an AD (8–18-year-olds) and both of their parents, and 44 matched non-AD children (63.6% girls) and both of their parents. Father-child and mother-child dyads were videotaped while discussing a conflict. Measures of dyadic emotional expressivity (positive and negative affect) and dyadic emotional flexibility (transitions, dispersion, average duration) were derived from these interactions using state space grid analysis. No differences existed in emotional expressivity of parent-child dyads with or without AD children, however both father-child and mother-child dyads with a child with an AD displayed less emotional flexibility during interactions than healthy controls. Mother-child dyads where both mother and child had AD showed more emotional expressivity and less emotional flexibility compared to mother-child dyads with only AD children and to dyads without AD. In particular, the inability to flexibly move in and out of different emotions distinguishes healthy dyads from non-healthy dyads. Targeting emotional flexibility of dyads with children with an AD, and also emotional expressivity of dyads when mother has an AD, might be a valuable goal for family-based intervention.

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