Maternal disciplinary style with preschool children: Associations with children's and mothers' trait anxiety

Rebecca Robinson, Sam Cartwright-Hatton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This study explored associations between maternal discipline, maternal trait anxiety and anxiety in preschool-aged children. The sample comprised 47 mothers and their children, aged 2-3 years. Maternal discipline was assessed by maternal self-report; and child anxiety by maternal and play leader report. Positive associations were found between self-reported, ineffective, maternal discipline and symptoms of anxiety in preschool-aged children. Associations were not found between self-reported "verbose" discipline (long reprimands or reliance on talking) and preschoolers' anxiety. There were also no associations between play leaders' reports of preschoolers' anxiety and any of the mothers' self-reported discipline measures. Positive associations were found between maternal trait anxiety and the use of self-reported ineffective disciplinary behaviours. Over-reactive discipline was shown to be a stronger predictor of preschoolers' anxiety symptoms than maternal anxiety or lax discipline. It was concluded that children's internalizing symptoms (according to mother report) may be associated with use of ineffective disciplinary strategies. Increased use of these strategies was also associated with anxiety in mothers, and it is suggested that use of ineffective discipline strategies might partially account for the association between maternal and child anxiety. © 2007 British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)49-59
    Number of pages10
    JournalBehavioural And Cognitive Psychotherapy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


    • Child anxiety
    • Maternal-anxiety
    • Maternal-discipline


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