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Title: Maternal social anxiety, verbal information transfer, and child play representations in the context of starting school
Author: Pass, Laura
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2013
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Background: Anxiety is a common childhood psychological difficulty, however little is known about the development of anxiety symptoms in early childhood. By understanding such processes, early identification and targeted prevention work may be possible. Anxiety runs in families, and research suggests verbal information transfer may be one way in which vulnerabilities to developing anxiety may be transmitted from parents to children. Method: A community sample of mothers and their preschool children (N = 65) completed observational tasks relating to the upcoming event of the child starting school. Mothers gave a verbal description to their children about social aspects of school, then children completed a brief play assessment with a researcher involving ambiguous, school-based social scenarios. Mothers completed self-report questionnaires on social anxiety symptoms, general anxiety and depressive symptoms, fear of negative self-evaluation, and fear of negative child evaluation. Mothers also completed a questionnaire on child anxiety symptoms. Results: There were a number of non-significant associations. However, a significant positive association was found between maternal social anxiety symptoms and a lack of positive general comments in mothers’ school descriptions. There was also a significant positive association between maternal fear of negative child evaluation and lack of consistent positivity in their descriptions of school. A one-item question asking mothers if they were personally worried about their child starting school was also associated with maternal descriptions. While no relationship was found between maternal descriptions and child representational positivity, significant associations were found between overall maternal positivity, as well as overall maternal negativity, and child representational negativity. Conclusions: Further research is needed to replicate these findings before firm conclusions can be drawn, but they provide tentative support for the theory that verbal information transmission may be influenced by maternal anxiety/specific concerns regarding their child, and that this information transmission affects child representations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available