Socially Anxious Parents Show Specific Parenting Pattern

Parents with social anxiety disorder show less warmth, more criticism, child competency doubts

THURSDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Parents with social anxiety disorder (SAD) are more likely to engage in a specific pattern of parenting behavior involving less warmth and more criticism, according to a study published in the September issue of Child Psychiatry & Human Development.

Meghan Crosby Budinger, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a study involving anxious parents, 21 with SAD and 45 without SAD, during a five-minute task with their non-anxious children (age 7 to 12 years). Differences in the use of five specific parenting behaviors were examined: warmth/positive affect, criticism, doubts of child competency, over-control, and granting of autonomy.

The researchers found that, compared to parents without SAD, those with SAD demonstrated less warmth/positive affect and more criticism and doubts of child competency. No differences were noted between the groups in over-control or granting of autonomy.

"Findings from this study suggest that parents with SAD may exhibit a unique pattern of behaviors when interacting with their children that includes high levels of criticism and low levels of warmth," the authors write. "Further investigation is necessary to determine how the parenting styles of socially anxious parents influence children's risk of developing anxiety or other disorders over time."

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