Autonomy-relevant maternal parenting in early childhood as a predictor of anxiety symptoms in preadolescence

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Amy Leigh McCurdy (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Anne Fletcher

Abstract: Autonomy-relevant parenting practices have been associated with anxiety symptoms later in life, although this finding has most commonly been studied in adolescent populations using self-report measures. The current study used a sample of mother-child dyads living in rural areas under conditions of poverty to understand how psychologically controlling and autonomy-supportive parenting at 58 months predicts anxiety symptoms at 12 years. Infant distress to novelty at 6 months and child gender were investigated as a potential moderators of these associations. Autonomy-relevant parenting measures were assessed via observational coding methods, whereas child anxiety and infant distress to novelty were measured through mother’s self-reports. Results indicated that for girls only, a significant association between the psychological control/autonomy-support measure and child anxiety emerged such that higher autonomy-support predicted greater anxiety symptoms. For girls only, distress to novelty moderated this association – infants who were high in distress to novelty showed a stronger association between autonomy-supportive parenting and later anxiety symptoms than infants who were low in distress to novelty. Findings from the current study provoke further questions regarding bidirectional associations between child anxiety symptoms and parenting practices, and indicate avenues for future interventions to ameliorate anxiety symptoms in preadolescent girls.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
Anxiety symptoms, Autonomy-support, Child gender, Distress to novelty, Parenting, Psychological control
Autonomy (Psychology)
Mother and child
Anxiety in children
Distress in infants
Temperament in children
Sex differences (Psychology) in children

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