ANTECEDENTS OF ANXIETY SYMPTOMS IN PRESCHOOLERS: THE INTERPLAY OF FEARFUL TEMPERAMENT, SLEEP REGULATION, AND MATERNAL PROTECTIVENESS

Open Access
Author:
Cho, Sunghye
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 13, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Kristin Buss, Thesis Advisor
  • Brian A Rabian, Thesis Advisor
  • Pamela Marie Cole, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • anxiety risk
  • sleep regulation
  • temperament
  • maternal overprotectiveness
Abstract:
Although children’s regulatory skills (e.g. physiological, affective, attentional regulation) have been hypothesized to explain the longitudinal relations among temperamental characteristics, parenting, and anxiety symptom development, few studies have directly tested this proposition (Bosquet & Egeland, 2006; Degnan & Fox, 2007; Thompson, 2001). The present study examined observational and questionnaire data on 124 children and their mothers to test whether fearful temperament and maternal protective parenting behaviors may predict preschool-age sleep dysregulation. Sleep regulation—encompassing emotion, attention, arousal regulation—was examined as an intermediate developmental outcome that may be meaningfully related to early fearful temperament and later development of anxiety symptoms. The possible conditional indirect effects of fearful temperament on symptoms of separation anxiety and worry at kindergarten entry were also examined. Contrary to the study hypotheses, the findings indicated that high levels of maternal protective behaviors predicted significantly fewer sleep dysregulation problems for temperamentally fearful children, whereas similar levels of protective behaviors predicted greater sleep dysregulation in children who were rated as less fearful as toddlers. Furthermore, although specific indices of preschool-age sleep dysregulation uniquely predicted anxiety symptoms at kindergarten entry above and beyond the prediction made by concurrent symptoms of anxiety at age 4, significant indirect relationship between fearful temperament and anxiety symptoms at kindergarten entry was not found. Implications of the present study findings and limitations are discussed.