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Maternal Anxiety and Separation Anxiety in Children Aged Between 3 and 6 Years

The Mediating Role of Parenting Style

Orgilés, Mireia, PhD; Penosa, Patricia, PhD; Morales, Alexandra, PhD; Fernández-Martínez, Iván, PhD student; Espada, José P., PhD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: October/November 2018 - Volume 39 - Issue 8 - p 621–628
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000593
Original Articles

Objective: Maternal anxiety is known to be associated with childhood separation anxiety. However, there is little research on the mediating factors of this relationship, despite the possible consequences separation anxiety might have for children's development and autonomy. The objective of this study was to analyze the possible mediating effects of 4 parenting styles (overprotective, assertive, punitive, and inhibited) on the relationship between maternal anxiety and child separation anxiety.

Methods: Participants were 235 mothers with children aged 3 to 6 years, recruited from 6 preschools in the southeast of Spain. Maternal trait anxiety, maternal parenting style, and child separation anxiety were evaluated.

Results: A parallel multiple-mediation analysis revealed that the overprotective parenting style was a significant mediator of the relationship between maternal trait anxiety and child separation anxiety. In addition, mothers with higher trait anxiety scores exhibited a greater likelihood of using an overprotective, punitive, or less assertive parenting style. Younger mothers were more likely to use an overprotective parenting style, and compared with girls, boys were more exposed to the assertive style.

Conclusion: This study provides initial evidence that parenting style acts as a mediator of the relationship between maternal anxiety and child separation anxiety.

Department of Health Psychology, Miguel Hernández University, Alicante, Spain.

Address for reprints: Iván Fernández-Martínez, Department of Health Psychology, Miguel Hernández University, Avda de la Universidad, Elche, 03202, Alicante, Spain; e-mail: i.fernandez@umh.es.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Received January , 2018

Accepted April , 2018

Copyright © 2018 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.