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Title: Children's anxiety and their perceptions of parenting behaviours
Author: Lau, Mandy Pui Li
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 7591
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2014
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Moderate associations between child anxiety and perceived parenting behaviour have been consistently reported, however, what these associations represent is unclear. This thesis examined three research questions: (i) whether different levels of perceived parenting are significantly associated with a change in anxiety; (ii) whether perceived parenting questionnaires have construct validity and (iii) whether children's anxiety is associated with biased perceptions of parenting. In a prospective study (Study 1), 905 Year 6 children (10-12 years) completed questionnaires on their anxiety and perceived parenting, and completed the anxiety questionnaire again in Year 7. Contrary to expectations, children's perceived overprotection, anxious rearing and rejection significantly predicted a modest decrease in their anxiety. The findings raised questions regarding the construct validity of measures of children's perceived parenting. Studies 2-5, therefore, examined children's (8-11 years) perceptions of parenting in greater detail. To assess how children interpreted parenting constructs, 74 children gave examples relating to commonly used parenting questionnaire items (Study 2) and 196 children responded to commonly used parenting questionnaire items in relation to scenarios that illustrated different parenting constructs (Study 3). Children gave examples to overprotection questions and responded to overprotection parenting scenarios that reflected warm parenting. However, these studies do not provide a reference point for observed parenting. Study 4 and Study 5, therefore, involved 69 parent-child dyads who completed various observational tasks, following which children rated their parents' behaviour. There were no significant associations between observers' and children's ratings of 'equivalent' parenting constructs. Furthermore, when anxiety was manipulated experimentally (Study 5), higher child anxiety was associated with perceptions of significantly more 'over-controlling' parenting. These studies highlight that improved methods of assessing children's perceptions of parenting are required. Findings from studies of observed and perceived parenting should not be considered interchangeably. Research in the relationship between general cognitive biases and biased perceptions of parenting in anxious populations is warranted.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available