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Although numerous studies have documented the concurrent association between parental overcontrol and child anxiety, few have examined overcontrol for its prospective association with children’s anxiety. In this study we evaluate whether parental overcontrol prospectively predicts children’s anxiety symptoms across the transition to early adolescence (H1), whether parental overcontrol mediates the association between parent and child anxiety (H2), and whether parental overcontrol mediates the association between child avoidant coping and child anxiety (H3). School-aged children (N = 102) and their mothers and fathers completed this two wave study. At Time 1, each family member reported on his/her own anxiety symptoms (children: State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children; parents: Symptom Checklist-90 Revised), parents reported on their overcontrolling parenting behavior (USC Parental Overcontrol Scale) and children reported on their avoidant coping (Children’s Coping Strategies Checklist- Revision 1). Children reported on their anxiety symptoms two-and-a-half years later using the same scale. Results indicated that having at least one parent who reported highly overcontrolling parenting was associated with persistent anxiety symptoms across this developmental transition. When both mother and father overcontrol were evaluated in the same models, only maternal overcontrol acted as an indirect effect explaining the prospective associations (H2) between maternal and child anxiety and (H3) between child avoidant coping and child anxiety. Our study provides evidence for the prospective association between parental overcontrol and child anxiety and suggests that maternal overcontrol is a mechanism underlying the association between maternal and child anxiety.
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- Parental overcontrol as a mechanism explaining the longitudinal association between parent and child anxiety
Jessica L. Borelli
Hannah F. Rasmussen
- Springer US