The role of parental beliefs about anxiety and attachment on parental accommodation of child anxiety

Carly Johnco*, Eric A. Storch, Ella Oar, Nicole M. McBride, Sophie Schneider, Wendy K. Silverman, Eli R. Lebowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study examined: 1) the relationship between negative parental beliefs about child anxiety (i.e., it is harmful), insecure parental attachment and parental accommodation of child anxiety; 2) whether parental attachment insecurity moderates the effect of negative beliefs about anxiety on parent accommodation; and 3) a path model of parental factors affecting accommodation and child anxiety severity. Participants were 139 parents of children (6–18 years) with a primary anxiety disorder. Parents completed measures of parental accommodation of their child’s anxiety, beliefs about child anxiety, and attachment security. Child anxiety diagnosis and severity was determined using semi-structured clinical interviews. Negative beliefs about child anxiety were directly associated with levels of parental accommodation. There was no direct relationship between insecure attachment and accommodation; however anxious attachment moderated the effect of parental beliefs about anxiety on parental accommodation. Among parents with more secure attachment, negative beliefs about anxiety were associated with greater parental accommodation. However, among parents with less secure attachment, accommodation was high regardless of beliefs about anxiety. A path model suggested that negative beliefs about anxiety was related to increased parental accommodation, which in turn was related to increased child anxiety severity. Psychoeducation about the nature of anxiety is likely to be beneficial in helping to reduce accommodation among parents with more secure attachment styles. However, among those with greater anxious attachment, psychoeducation may need to be tailored to focus on corrective information about the impact of treatment processes on the parent–child relationship.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • family accommodation
  • child
  • anxiety
  • attachment
  • parent
  • beliefs

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