Prediction of anxiety symptoms in preschool-aged children

examination of maternal and paternal perspectives

Susan L. Edwards, Ronald M. Rapee, Susan Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

104 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Little is known about risk factors for anxiety in young children. The current study investigated the value of a set of theoretically derived risk factors to predict symptoms of anxiety in a sample of preschool-aged children. Methods: Mothers (n = 632) and fathers (n = 249) completed questionnaires twice, 12 months apart. Measures were selected to assess several risk factors derived from current theory, including parental negative affectivity, child inhibition, parent overprotection, and impact of life events. Results: Even at this young age anxiety across 12 months was moderately to highly stable (r's =.75 and.74 based on maternal and paternal report respectively). Over and above this stability, according to maternal report, anxiety at 12 months was significantly predicted by prior maternal overprotection, impact of negative life events, child's inhibition, and maternal negative affectivity. According to paternal report, anxiety at 12 months was significantly predicted by prior paternal overprotection and impact of negative life events. The models did not differ significantly for girls and boys. Conclusions: The results support theories of the development of anxiety, especially the role of parental and external environmental factors, and point to possible targets for prevention of heightened anxiety in young children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-321
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

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