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Trajectories of anxiety in a population sample of children: Clarifying the role of children's behavioral characteristics and maternal parenting

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 April 2010

Stéphane Duchesne*
Université Laval
Simon Larose
Université Laval
Frank Vitaro
Université Laval Université de Montréal
Richard E. Tremblay
Université Laval Université de Montréal
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Stéphane Duchesne, Département d'études sur l'enseignement et l'apprentissage, Faculté des sciences de l'éducation, Local 934 2320, rue des Bibliothèques, Université Laval, Laval, QC G1V 0A6, Canada; E-mail:


This study pursued three goals. The first goal was to explore children's trajectories of anxiety from age 6 to 12 using a representative community sample. The second goal was to assess the link between certain behavioral characteristics assessed in kindergarten (i.e., inattention, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, and low prosociality) and these trajectories. The third goal was to determine whether certain aspects of maternal parenting (i.e., warmth and discipline) could moderate the association between these characteristics and the trajectories of anxiety. A population sample of 2,000 children (1,001 boys, 999 girls) participated in this longitudinal study. Developmental trajectory analyses allowed us to identify four trajectory groups: low, low-increasing, high-declining, and high anxiety groups. Moreover, multinomial logistic regressions revealed a profile of children at risk of developing high anxiety symptoms (i.e., high group), characterized by sociofamily adversity, inattention, and low prosociality in the classroom. Hyperactivity was also found in this profile, but only for children exposed to a mother who showed little affective warmth. Finally, mothers' high level of discipline increased the odds of belonging to the high anxiety group. The results are discussed in relation to studies examining the association among anxiety, behavioral characteristics, and parenting during childhood.

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