A longitudinal bidirectional analysis of early school age anxiety and maternal warmth and the prediction of internalizing symptoms in late childhood and adolescence

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
The purpose of this study was to extend previous research on the bidirectional relationship between parental warmth and child anxiety, and to further examine the predictive utility of parental warmth on later child anxiety and depressive disorder outcomes. Parental warmth has previously been identified as a contributing factor to child anxiety (e.g., McLeod et al., 2007b, Yap et al., 2014; Yap & Jorm, 2015); however, the bidirectionality of these constructs has only once been measured in a population of children at early school-age (Gouze, Hopkins, Bryant, & Lavigne, 2017), and has not before been measured both longitudinally and observationally. The results of this study extend previous research suggesting that child psychopathology may result in increasing negative parenting behaviours over time. Conversely, a parent-effect was not found; low maternal warmth was not shown to significantly predict subsequent increases in child anxiety at early school-age. This study did not find main effects of early school-age maternal warmth on anxiety and depressive disorder criterion counts in middle childhood through adolescence. However, findings indicated that maternal warmth negatively predicted generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) criterion counts among those with low SES in grade 12, and positively predicted GAD and depressive disorder criterion counts among those with moderate-to-high SES in grade 12 and grade 6, respectively. These results are understood within a larger discussion of risk factors associated with low SES as well as by examining the directionality of effects. It is strongly recommended that future researchers measure anxiety and depression longitudinally across the early developmental lifespan alongside observed parental warmth to disentangle the complex relationship between these constructs. The utmost goal is to identify a profile of risk that includes both early internalizing problems and parenting factors in order to positively benefit healthy outcomes among children and families. This study contributes towards a better understanding of these relationships, and towards the appropriate design of interventions to prevent the onset of anxiety, depression, and associated deleterious outcomes among children and youth.
Copyright statement
Copyright is held by the author.
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: McMahon, Robert
Member of collection
Attachment Size
etd19858.pdf 1.47 MB