Fathers' challenging parenting behavior predicts less subsequent anxiety symptoms in early childhood

Auteur :

M. Majdandzic

Jaar van publicatie :


Thema :

Ouderschap en Opvoeden

Type :


Korte beschrijving:


Fathers' challenging parenting behavior predicts less anxiety in early childhood.


Mothers' overprotection predicts less anxiety in early childhood.


Parents can compensate for the other parent's low challenging parenting behavior.


Fearful children seem to benefit more from fathers' challenging parenting behavior.


Recent theories propose that (especially fathers') challenging parenting behavior (CPB) serves to reduce offspring's anxiety development, and that fearful children are more susceptible to parenting. Using a longitudinal design we explored whether more CPB (and less overprotection) of both parents, (1) separately, (2) relatively, and (3) jointly predicts less anxiety in early childhood, and (4) whether child fearful temperament moderates these relations. Participants were 132 couples with their first-born child. Child fearful temperament was observed at 4 months and 1 year, and parents' CPB and overprotection at 1 and 2.5 years. Child anxiety symptoms were assessed at 2.5 and 4.5 years. Multilevel analyses showed that more CPB and, unexpectedly, more overprotection predicted less child anxiety. Relatively, fathers' CPB and mothers' overprotection predicted less anxiety. An interaction showed that if one parent shows low CPB, the other parent's higher CPB predicts less child anxiety. A trend interaction suggested that fathers' CPB predicts less anxiety most strongly for fearful children. Thus, fathers' CPB appears to play a protective role in anxiety development, possibly in particular for children most vulnerable to develop anxiety problems. Parents can compensate for a less challenging partner. The finding that maternal overprotection mitigates child anxiety requires further investigation.

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