Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 303–310 | Cite as

Childhood Anxiety/Withdrawal, Adolescent Parent–Child Attachment and Later Risk of Depression and Anxiety Disorder

  • Ida Skytte JakobsenEmail author
  • L. John Horwood
  • David M. Fergusson
Original Paper


Previous research has shown that children with high levels of early anxiety/withdrawal are at increased risk of later anxiety and depression. It has also been found that positive parent–child attachment reduces the risk of these disorders. The aim of this paper was to examine the extent to which positive parent–child attachment acted to mitigate the risk of later internalising disorders amongst children with high levels of early anxiety/withdrawal using data from a 30 years longitudinal study of a New Zealand birth cohort. The findings of this study showed that: (a) increasing rates of early anxiety/withdrawal were associated with an increased risk of later anxiety and depression; (b) positive parent–child attachment in adolescence was associated with a decline in the risk of later anxiety and depression; and (c) these associations persisted even after controlling for confounding factors. The implications of these findings for the role of parent–child attachment in mitigating the adverse effects of early anxiety/withdrawal are discussed. It is concluded that positive parent–child attachment in adolescence may act as a compensatory factor which buffers the adverse effects of childhood anxiety/withdrawal on risks of developing later anxiety and depression.


Early anxiety/withdrawal Parent–child attachment Protection Risk Depression Anxiety disorder 



This research was funded by grants from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, the National Child Health Research Foundation, the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation and the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ida Skytte Jakobsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. John Horwood
    • 2
  • David M. Fergusson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense MDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Psychological MedicineUniversity of Otago, ChristchurchChristchurchNew Zealand

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