Maternal Parenting and Child Behaviour: An Observational Study of Childhood Social Anxiety Disorder

Abstract

Etiological models of social anxiety disorder (SAD) suggest parenting is involved in the development of SAD. However, previous studies have often neglected potential contributions of child behaviour to parenting behaviour. Further, parent–child interaction has often been assessed in artificial laboratory settings thereby impairing ecological validity. Children (aged 9–13 years) with SAD (n = 27) and healthy controls (HC, n = 27) completed a puzzle task with mothers present at home. Parent–child interactions were analysed for parenting (e.g., negativity, involvement) and child behaviour (e.g., dependence, helplessness). Mothers of children with SAD showed more involvement than mothers of HC children. Maternal involvement was related to child dependence in HC dyads only, while maternal negativity was correlated with negative child behaviour in both groups. The study indicates maternal over-involvement in their interactions with children with SAD at home. The lack of relation to child behaviour in SAD dyads points to inflexibility in mother–child interactions.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    “Egna minnen beträffande uppfostran” (EMBU).

  2. 2.

    The larger study, which will be presented elsewhere (Asbrand et al. 2016), consisted of a social stress test and an eyetracking task (two testing sessions), both conducted in the laboratory. Between 7 and 14 days passed before the testing session at home.

  3. 3.

    At the beginning of the study, the DSM5 (APA 2013) had not yet been published.

  4. 4.

    Due to technical problems in assessment of one SAD dyad, final data were available from 26 SAD and 27 HC dyads.

  5. 5.

    The physiological task included physical changes of position and light exercise. Any kind of mental stress was aimed to be as low as possible. Between the physiological task and the current interaction task, a relaxation phase without any tasks took place to allow recovery from possible physical strain (Asbrand et al. 2016).

  6. 6.

    To facilitate readability of methods and results, factors are italicised while scales are presented in usual font.

  7. 7.

    Mother’s Focus could not be interpreted due to deficient inter-rater reliability, probably caused by different set-ups and camera angles in each individual household.

  8. 8.

    Sample size is often targeted at 300 or more cases (e.g., Tabachnick and Fidell 2013). However, fewer cases can be as meaningful when considering factor loadings and communalities. Factor loadings greater than 0.6 are considered reliable regardless of sample size (Guadagnoli and Velicer 1988). Similarly, communalites above 0.6 show adequacy even in sample sizes of less than 100 (MacCallum et al. 1999). In the current sample, factors that do not exceed these thresholds are not included in calculations of factors and, thus, further analysis.

  9. 9.

    Age and gender have been discussed as influential on parenting (e.g., Hudson and Rapee 2001). However, including both as covariates revealed no significant influences, ps > .187.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by a stipend from the German National Merit Foundation granted to the first author. Compensation for participants was provided by the Scientific Community Freiburg/Breisgau. The diagnostic procedure was subsidised by a grant from the DFG to the last author (TU 78/5-2).

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Julia Asbrand, Jennifer Hudson, Julian Schmitz, Brunna Tuschen-Caffier declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Asbrand, J., Hudson, J., Schmitz, J. et al. Maternal Parenting and Child Behaviour: An Observational Study of Childhood Social Anxiety Disorder. Cogn Ther Res 41, 562–575 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-016-9828-3

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Keywords

  • Social Anxiety
  • Child Behaviour
  • Parenting Behaviour
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Anxious Child