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J Anxiety Disord. 1997 May-Jun;11(3):297-315.

Maternal expectations and attributions about coping in anxious children.

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Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA.


This study examined maternal expectations and attributions regarding their child's ability to cope with a stressful situation. Children either met DSM III-R criteria for an Anxiety Disorder or were normal. Results indicated that it was not the perception of threat that differentiated the expectations of mothers in both groups, but rather their expectations for coping, both generally and in terms of specific behavior. Mothers of anxiety-disorder (AD) children expected their children to be more upset, less able to make themselves feel comfortable, and were less confident in their children's abilities to perform task related behavior. In general, maternal expectations for coping appear to reflect the actual lower coping ability of anxious children. Concerning attributions, mothers of AD children made fewer causal distinctions between high and low coping than did mothers of normal control (NC) children. Discussion considers how lowered expectations for coping may relate to protective parenting and how such patterns may unwittingly maintain anxious behavior in children.

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