Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 12, pp 3425–3432 | Cite as

Do Parental Behaviours Predict Anxiety Symptom Levels? A 3 Year Follow Up

  • Sonja BreinholstEmail author
  • Monika Anna Walczak
  • Barbara Hoff Esbjørn
Original Paper



Our study investigated the association between parental behaviour and anxiety in children and adolescents in a longitudinal 3-year follow-up design. Our study supplements widely used self-reports on parental behaviour with observations of the parent-child interactions.


A community sample of 101 children and their mothers were included in the study. We hypothesized that anxiety symptoms in the child and mother at intake would influence levels of anxiety in the child at three-year follow-up. We also hypothesized that negative maternal behaviour both self-reported and observed would provide a unique variance in predicting increased levels of anxiety symptoms in the child after three years above and beyond child and maternal levels of anxiety symptoms at intake.


We found that children’s anxiety symptom levels at intake, as well as female gender were significant and the most important contributors to the development of higher levels of anxiety symptoms at follow-up. Furthermore, observed maternal tension at intake significantly predicted child’s anxiety levels at follow-up.


Although maternal tension also significantly predicted higher levels of anxiety symptoms, the maternal variables were of less importance than child anxiety level at intake and female gender in predicting anxiety levels at follow-up.


Parental rearing behaviour Anxiety Children Parents Follow-up 



The original data collection was made possible by grants to Professor Barbara Hoff Esbjørn by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions-International Outgoing Fellowships. Furthermore the project was founded by the Helse foundation. We would also like to thank all the participating mothers and children, and all the staff, especially the volunteers, at Centre for Anxiety.

Author contributions

S.B. collaborated in designing the study and wrote the paper. M.W. analysed the data and wrote the result section as well as collaborated in editing the final manuscript. B.H.E. designed and collaborated in writing and editing the final manuscript

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee at the Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonja Breinholst
    • 1
    Email author
  • Monika Anna Walczak
    • 1
  • Barbara Hoff Esbjørn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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