Stressful Life Events and Child Anxiety: Examining Parent and Child Mediators

Rheanna Platt, Sarah R. Williams, Golda S. Ginsburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While a number of factors have been linked with excessive anxiety (e.g., parenting, child temperament), the impact of stressful life events remains under-studied. Moreover, much of this literature has examined bivariate associations rather than testing more complex theoretical models. The current study extends the literature on life events and child anxiety by testing a theory-driven meditational model. Specifically, one child factor (child cognitions/locus of control), two parent factors (parent psychopathology and parenting stress), and two parent–child relationship factors (parent–child dysfunctional interaction and parenting style) were examined as mediators in the relationship between stressful life events and severity of child anxiety. One hundred and thirty anxious parents and their nonanxious, high-risk children (ages ranged from 7 to 13 years) participated in this study. Results indicated that levels of parenting stress, parental anxious rearing, and dysfunctional parent–child interaction mediated the association between stressful life events and severity of anxiety symptoms. Child cognition and parent psychopathology factors failed to emerge as mediators. Findings provide support for more complex theoretical models linking life events and child anxiety and suggest potential targets of intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-34
Number of pages12
JournalChild Psychiatry and Human Development
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Keywords

  • Child anxiety
  • Parent stress
  • Stressful life events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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