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31-07-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 3/2016

Journal of Child and Family Studies 3/2016

Sleep Problems and Separation Anxiety in Preschool-Aged Children: A Path Analysis

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 3/2016
Angelika A. Schlarb, Stefanie Jaeger, Silvia Schneider, Tina In-Albon, Martin Hautzinger
Belangrijke opmerkingen
Angelika A. Schlarb and Stefanie Jaeger shared first authorship.


Sleep problems occur frequently in young children, possibly causing detrimental effects on their development. Parental marital difficulties are known to put a burden on children’s sleep and adjustment. However, research concerning the relation between the parental relationship quality and children’s sleep difficulties is rare for preschool-aged children. This study aims to fill in the gap. Initially, caregivers of 94 preschoolers (41 girls and 53 boys, aged 2–6 years) filled in questionnaires providing information on their children’s sleep and anxiety as well as on their own sleep and relationship quality. A path model approach was used to examine two competing theoretical models linking these factors. The conducted path analysis indicated that children’s separation anxiety, β = −.134, p = .017, as well as their anxiety in general, β = −.177, p = .024, partially mediated the relation between the parental relationship quality and children’s sleep problems. Parental sleep problems correlated with the relationship quality, r = −.371, p = .030, but had no significant influence on children’s sleep. The results of our study suggest that children growing up with parents who state a low relationship quality might thus be concerned about the stability of their family system. As a result children’s sleep quality might be compromised due to irritation and feelings of insecurity. The study highlights the importance of the parental relationship as an influence factor in children’s sleep quality.

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