Parental Emotion-Focused Behaviors Moderate the Relationship Between Perceptual Sensitivity and Fear Reactivity in Anxious Children
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This investigation examined the synergistic role of parental emotion-focused socialization behaviors and children’s perceptual sensitivity on children’s fear reactivity. A sample of 105 children with anxiety disorders (8–12 years; M = 10.07 years, SD = 1.22; 57% female) and their clinically anxious mothers (M = 39.35 years, SD = 7.05) completed an assessment battery that included a diagnostic interview and questionnaires regarding anxiety symptoms, perceptual sensitivity, and emotion socialization behaviors; children also completed a 5-min, videotaped speech task, and rated their fear levels before and after the task. Analyses revealed a significant interaction between perceptual sensitivity and emotion-focused strategies predicting fear change scores from pre- to post-speech. Higher perceptual sensitivity was related to greater reductions in fear from pre- to post- speech (adjusting for pre-speech fear scores), yet only among anxious children whose mothers reported high use of emotion-focused strategies. Maternal emotion-focused socialization strategies may increase anxious children’s ability to modulate their affective responses during stressful situations.
KeywordsEmotion socialization Anxiety Children Fear Temperament Parenting
This study was funded by Grant R21MH101309 (PI: Viana) from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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