A longitudinal investigation of maternal and child 'anxious cognitions'

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Creswell, C. ; O'Connor, T. G. ; Brewin, C. R. (2006)

Overestimation of threat and underestimation of coping have been frequently reported amongst anxious adults and children. The current study examines the longitudinal relationship between mothers' anxious cognitions and expectations about their child, and children's anxious cognitions. 54 children (aged 10-11 years) and their mothers reported on their interpretation of ambiguous scenarios at two time points. Mothers also reported on their expectations about their child's reaction to ambiguous situations. Significant cross-sectional associations were found between mother and child anticipation of distress. Associations were most consistent between mothers' expectations and children's cognitions. Furthermore, based on regression analyses, mothers' expectations predicted change in children's anxious cognitions over time. Evidence for a reciprocal relationship, that child cognitions predict change in mothers' expectations, was found for girls. The results provide empirical support for potential influences on the development of children's 'anxious cognitive style,' and suggest targets for preventing and reducing maladaptive cognitions in children.
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