“I'd Rather Not Talk About It”: Emotion Parenting in Families of Children With an Anxiety Disorder

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Abstract

This study examined emotion socialization practices in families of children with an anxiety disorder (AD; n = 28) and of children who had no diagnoses (ND; n = 28) and considered gender differences. Youth (aged 8-13) and both parents discussed times when the child felt anxious, angry, and happy, for 5 min each. Fathers of AD children engaged in less explanatory discussion of emotion overall and exhibited less positive affect and more negative affect when interacting with sons than did fathers of ND children. Similar patterns emerged for mothers, although specific results varied by emotion type and child gender. Children with an AD demonstrated less positive affect overall and engaged in fewer problem-solving emotion regulation strategies when discussing anxious and angry situations than did children in the ND group. In both AD and ND groups, fathers appeared to have greater involvement in emotion-related discussions with sons versus daughters. The results highlight parents' contributions to the emotional development of their children, the ways in which socialization may go awry in families of AD children, and the implications for children's emotional functioning.

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