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The present study examined family, child, and demographic influences on parents' decisions to carry out efforts to reduce their child's anxiety problems. The current study analyzed data from 363 families who participated in the Child Development Project (Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 1990), a longitudinal study of social development. When children were 11 years old, parents were asked whether they had become concerned enough about their child'Âs anxiety in the last two years to begin an active campaign to help their child. Unadaptable (inhibited) child temperament, socioeconomic status, family stress, child gender, ethnicity, and mother-rated anxiety/depression from the Child Behavior Checklist served as predictors of parents' decision to mount a campaign. Predictors were measured at least one year before parents reported on their concerns about their children'Âs anxiety. Results from logistic regression analyses revealed that high levels of stress and unadaptability in infancy, as well as low SES were all associated with an increased probability that a mother would start a campaign to reduce her child'Âs anxiety problems. However, once the effect of child anxiety/depression on mother'Âs concern was statistically controlled, none of these variables were significantly associated with mothers'Â campaign efforts. Moderating effects of the child and family variables on the association between child anxiety/depression levels and mothers'ÃÂÃÂ decision to mount a campaign were also examined. Child gender was the only variable found to increase parental sensitivity to child anxiety/depression. The association between child anxiety/depression and motherÂs' concerns/campaigns efforts was stronger for girls than for boys. The results of this study suggest that child and family influences (e.g., stress, SES) on parents'decisions to respond to child anxiety may be explained by differences in child anxiety levels. In addition, the findings indicate that parents are more sensitive to levels of anxiety and depression in their daughters than in their sons.

Publication Date

4-18-2012

Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Jackson A. Goodnight

Primary Advisor's Department

Psychology

Keywords

Stander Symposium poster

Parental Sensitivity to Child Anxiety Problems: An Examination of Child, Family, and Demographic Influences

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