Maternal Anxiety, Parenting, and The Emergence of Child Anxiety Among Young Children With and Without Developmental Delay

Open Access
Pellegrino, Marissa Nicole
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 12, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Keith Crnic, Committee Chair
  • Brian A Rabian, Committee Chair
  • Thomas D Borkovec, Committee Member
  • Craig Edelbrock, Committee Member
  • transmission of anxiety
  • family processes
  • developmental delay
  • parenting
  • child anxiety
  • maternal anxiety
  • mother-child interactions
  • child psychopathology
The present study investigated mechanisms of transmission of anxiety from mother to child across the preschool period, with particular attention to the mediating role of parenting specifically related to emotional experiences. Contrasts in these processes between families of children with and without developmental delays allowed for further exploration of mechanisms of effect related to the presence of risk. In contrast to the generally modest findings in the absence of child risk, findings in the presence of risk were notably more powerful. Although maternal anxiety during early childhood appeared associated with later child anxious symptoms regardless of risk status, only in the presence of risk was a mechanism of effect able to be identified. More specifically, a lack of positive parenting behaviors mediated the relations between maternal anxiety in early childhood and later child anxiety in the presence of child risk. As hypothesized, family factors appeared more salient under conditions of risk and served to intensify and realize the risk of early maternal anxiety. Specific study results and implications for prevention and intervention efforts are discussed.