Parenting and Temperament: Actions in the Microsystem and Children's Anxiety at School

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McCay, Tianna
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Mount Saint Vincent University
School presents multiple common stressors for anxious children which regularly disrupts their ability to engage in school and develop academically and socially. The current study aimed to explore predictors of anxiety at school utilising Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory. The current study scaffolded off past research studies to contextualise ways that individual and environmental vulnerability might inform the identification and treatment of anxiety at school for school psychologists. Specifically, high negative affect, as well as authoritarian parenting, have been separately associated with increased anxiety. The current study hypothesized that the inclusion of these two variables in a regression model would significantly predict increased anxiety within the school context. Participants consisted of caregivers to children aged between 7 and 12 years old who responded to surveys via an online platform. Parents responded about their own parenting style, as well as reported observations of their child’s temperament (negative affect), and the degree to which anxiety negatively impacts their child at school. Correlations were conducted to observe associations between anxiety and parenting styles as well as negative affect and anxiety. Correlations corroborate past research which identifies a positive relationship between anxiety and negative affect (r = .513, p = .003). However, the current study did not replicate a negative association between anxiety and permissive parenting (r = .453, p = .009) or anxiety and authoritative parenting (r = .056, p = .759). Neither did the current study replicate a positive association between authoritarian parenting and anxiety (r = .282, p = .117). Regression analyses were used to assess the predictive relationship between anxiety at school utilising both high negative affect and an authoritarian parenting style. The findings indicate that when a student has high negative affect and a parent who uses an authoritarian parenting style, they are likely to experience increased anxiety (F=5.84, p<.01, rsq adj=.24). These findings support the identification of anxious students via the observation of behaviors associated with negative affect at school, as well as informs treatment to include parental education and support when applicable.