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Clin Psychol Rev. 2007 Mar;27(2):155-72. Epub 2006 Nov 16.

Examining the association between parenting and childhood anxiety: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA.


Theoretical models emphasize the role of parenting in the development and maintenance of child anxiety, but reviews of the empirical literature have provided mixed support for existing theories. To help clarify the role parenting plays in childhood anxiety, we conducted a meta-analysis of 47 studies testing the association between parenting and child anxiety. Across these studies, parenting accounted for only 4% of the variance in child anxiety. Moderator tests indicated that methodological factors (i.e., how child anxiety and parenting were conceptualized and assessed) may be a source of inconsistent findings within the literature. In addition, our analyses revealed that parental control was more strongly associated with child anxiety than was parental rejection. Specific subdimensions within parental rejection and control differed in their association with child anxiety (e.g., autonomy-granting accounted for 18% of the variance, but warmth <1%), indicating that efforts to disaggregate parenting dimensions may inform theory development and future research. Overall, however, the modest association between parenting and child anxiety suggests that understanding the origins of children's anxiety will require identifying factors other than parenting that account for the bulk of the variance.

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