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31-08-2016 | Original Paper | Uitgave 12/2016 Open Access

Journal of Child and Family Studies 12/2016

Psychological Inflexibility and Child Anxiety

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 12/2016
Auteurs:
Ellin Simon, Peter Verboon

Abstract

Psychological flexibility is the main outcome of acceptance commitment therapy. Insight into the usefulness of measuring psychological flexibility is an important step to enable studies on the effectiveness of acceptance commitment therapy in middle-aged children (8–10 years). For this purpose, we examined the factor structure, the construct validity and the reliability of the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth. The Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth taps psychological inflexibility (the opposite of psychological flexibility) in children and adolescents. Although the questionnaire has been extensively validated in older children, this is not the case for middle-aged children. The Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth contains 17 items and is constituted of the subscales cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance and behavioral ineffectiveness. A shortened 8-item version also exists, the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth-8, which does not distinguish between these subscales. We performed a confirmatory factor analysis. Additionally, we assessed the relationship between psychological flexibility and child anxiety. Children, aged 8–10 years, were recruited via regular primary schools. Of the 459 approached children, 267 (58 %) parents signed informed consents for their children (Age: M = 9.18; SD = .79; Sex: n boys = 137, 51 %). Children completed the questionnaires during regular classes. In this sample, the 17-item version of the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth was less appropriate for measuring psychological inflexibility than the 8-item version. Furthermore, we found a significant positive relationship between psychological inflexibility and child anxiety. We argue that acceptance commitment therapy would be an interesting candidate for intervening early on in dysfunctional child anxiety, as acceptance commitment therapy’s cognitive elements require cognitive skills that children are likely to master early on.

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