An Investigation of the Relationship between Maternal Overinvolvement and Childhood Anxiety in Young Children

Mrs Crystal McMullen (). An Investigation of the Relationship between Maternal Overinvolvement and Childhood Anxiety in Young Children Professional Doctorate, UQ School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Mrs Crystal McMullen
Thesis Title An Investigation of the Relationship between Maternal Overinvolvement and Childhood Anxiety in Young Children
School, Centre or Institute UQ School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Thesis type Professional Doctorate
Supervisor Dr Vanessa Cobham
Total pages 177
Abstract/Summary Past research has provided support for a link between childhood anxiety disorders and parenting behaviours characterised by overinvolvement and overcontrol (Hudson & Rapee, 2002; Gar & Hudson, 2008). However, little research has investigated the link between such parenting behaviours and risk factors for childhood anxiety. The studies discussed here investigated the relationship between maternal behaviours during a short interaction task with four- to seven-year-old children meeting risk factors for childhood anxiety, or mild to moderate anxiety diagnoses. Study 1 compared children who met two well known risk factors for anxiety, or who currently met a mild anxiety diagnosis (the Intervention Group, n=27), to children who did not meet either the risk factors or an anxiety diagnosis (the Control Group, n=31). Mother-child interactions were observed whilst the dyads discussed the children completing a short speech task. An independent observer, blind to the child’s condition, rated each mother-child interaction on a nine-point family interaction scale, adapted from a similar scale used in past research (Gar & Hudson, 2008; Hudson & Rapee, 2001; 2002; Cobham, Dadds & Spence, 1999). Results showed that mothers of children in the Intervention group exhibited significantly greater overinvolved, overcontrolling behaviour during the interaction task compared to mothers of children in the Control Group. Study 2 further examined ten children in the Intervention Group from Study 1 whose parents completed a six-week intervention aimed at providing psychoeducation and anxiety management strategies. Study 2 investigated if the intervention would reduce the intensity of maternal involvement during a second short interaction task. Results of Study 2 showed that the six-week intervention was found to significantly reduce the level of maternal involvement during the interaction task. The results of the studies discussed here support and extend the relationship found in past research by indicating that maternal overinvolvement can also be found in children who are at risk of, or showing early signs, of anxiety disorders. Furthermore, the results suggest that a short parent intervention may be able to reduce the level of maternal overinvolved behaviours.
Keyword anxiety
risk factors

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Created: Wed, 23 Dec 2009, 12:25:35 EST by Mrs Crystal Mcmullen