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Parent—Child Interactions With Anxious Children and With Their Siblings: An Observational Study

  • Paula M. Barrett (a1), Tara Fox (a2) and Lara J. Farrell (a3)

Abstract

In the present study, parent–child interactions with anxious children were compared to parent–child interactions with the anxious children's nonsymptomatic siblings and parent–child interactions with nonclinic children. Participants included 33 anxious children, their parents and siblings, and 14 nonclinic children and their parents. Parent–child interactions were observed during two discussion tasks related to anxiety-provoking or challenging situations. Parent–child interactions were coded for the following variables: control, warmth, reward of coping behaviour and task involvement. Consistent with previous research, parents in the anxious group showed more control, less paternal warmth and less maternal reward of coping behaviour toward their anxious child compared to parents of nonclinic children. Parent–child interactions with the anxious child were similar to parent–child interactions with the nonsymptomatic sibling, with the exception of fathers who exhibited more control toward their anxious child. Parent–sibling interactions, however, also resembled the nonclinic parent–child interactions, with mothers of anxious children showing more control toward their nonsymptomatic child than mothers of nonclinic children. These findings suggest that the relationships of each parent and their anxious child may be influenced by how the parent and child interact with each other. Suggestions for future research are discussed.

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Corresponding author

1Address for correspondence: Dr Paula Barrett, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland. Postal address PO Box 5699, West End QLD 4101, Australia.

Parent—Child Interactions With Anxious Children and With Their Siblings: An Observational Study

  • Paula M. Barrett (a1), Tara Fox (a2) and Lara J. Farrell (a3)

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