Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Committee Chair

Woodruff-Borden, Janet

Author's Keywords

Child; anxiety; resilience; temperament; family


Anxiety in children; Resilience (Personality trait) in children; Temperament in children; Child development


Anxiety is a common and debilitating disorder in children. Until recently, research in the field of child anxiety has focused on the identification of specific risk factors in the development of child anxiety. More recent studies have begun to explore more complex models of the etiology of child anxiety, but most still focus on the interplay of risk factors. Studies examining the development of child anxiety should focus on the confluence of vulnerability, risk, and protective factors to provide a more complete picture of the development of child anxiety. The current study reviews current conceptual and empirical research to propose a model of resilience in children at risk for the development of anxiety. In a first step in testing the proposed model, the current study examined the role of child emotion regulation as a mediator in the relationship between parent, child, and family factors and child anxiety. The study utilized a community sample of children ages 7 - 10 years and their parents. The final study sample consisted of 100 parent-child dyads recruited across three geographic areas. The sample was comprised of primarily European American mothers and their children. The study tested several related hypotheses. First, to validate inclusion of study variables relationships between parent anxiety symptoms, child temperament, parenting behavior, family environment, and marital relationship were examined. Next, to support the inclusion of these parent, child, and family variables in the test for mediation, the relationship between these variables and child emotion regulation and child anxiety was explored. Finally, the potential mediating role of child emotion regulation was explored. Additional exploratory analyses investigating specific subscales of the emotion regulation measures as mediators and potential differences in child emotion regulation in high and low anxious children were also considered. Results from the current study supported the inclusion of parent, child, and family factors in the proposed model, and confirmed the role of child emotion regulation as a mediator of the relationships between several of the variables and child anxiety. The mediation of child anxiety through child emotion regulation might represent a resilience process in children temperamentally at risk for developing anxiety. Results further substantiate the need to move from simple direct relationships to consideration of more complex transactional models in the etiology of child anxiety. The findings are discussed in terms of theoretical and clinical implications, strengths and weaknesses of the current study are presented, and suggestions for future research offered.