Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Kids' anxiety, depression halved when parenting styled to personality

Date:
August 1, 2011
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
When it comes to rearing children, just about any parent will say that what works with one kid might not work with another. But which parenting styles work best with which kids? A study by psychologists provides advice about tailoring parenting to children's personalities.

When it comes to rearing children, just about any parent will say that what works with one kid might not work with another. Parents use all sorts of strategies to keep kids from being cranky, grumpy, fearful or moody, while encouraging them to be independent and well-adjusted.

Related Articles


But which parenting styles work best with which kids? A study by University of Washington psychologists provides advice about tailoring parenting to children's personalities.

At the end of the three-year study, the psychologists found that the right match between parenting styles and the child's personality led to half as many depression and anxiety symptoms in school-aged children. But mismatches led to twice as many depression and anxiety symptoms during the same three years.

The study was published online Aug. 1 in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

"This study moves away from the one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, and gives specific advice to parents on how to mitigate their child's anxiety and depression," said Cara Kiff, lead author and psychology resident at the UW School of Medicine. "We're considering characteristics that make children vulnerable to anxiety and depression, and factoring in how that shapes how kids react to different parenting approaches."

"We hear a lot about over-involved parents, like 'tiger moms' and 'helicopter parents,'" said co-author Liliana Lengua, a UW psychology professor. "It is parents' instinct to help and support their children in some way, but it's not always clear how to intervene in the best way. This research shows that parenting is a balance between stepping in and stepping out with guidance, support and structure based on cues from kids."

Kiff, Lengua and Nicole Bush, a co-author and postdoctoral fellow at University of California, San Francisco's Center for Health and Community, studied interactions between 214 children and their mothers during interviews at home. An almost even mix of boys and girls participated in the study and were, on average, 9 years old when the study began.

The children and their mothers met with the researchers once a year. The researchers observed as the pairs discussed neutral topics, such as a recap of the day's events, and common problems, like conflicts over homework and chores. During the conversations, the researchers noted parenting styles, including warmth and hostility, and how much mothers allowed their child to guide the conversations -- an autonomy-granting parenting style.

The researchers also measured the children's anxiety and depression symptoms and evaluated their personality characteristics. They paid particular attention to effortful control, the kids' abilities to regulate their own emotions and actions, which is associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety.

At the end of the three-year study, the researchers found that:

  • Children with greater effortful control had fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression compared with other kids in the study, and those symptoms usually remained low regardless of parenting style.
  • When children were higher in effortful control but their parents used higher levels of guidance or provided little autonomy, those children showed higher levels of depression and anxiety.
  • Children with low effortful control had less anxiety when mothers provided more structuring and less autonomy.
  • Children low in effortful control doubled their anxiety symptoms if they had mothers who provided little control.

Lengua, who is also the director of the UW Center for Child and Family Well-Being, said the study shows how parents can use their child's personality and temperament to decide how much and what type of help to give. For some kids, particularly those who have trouble regulating their emotions, more help is good. But for kids who have pretty good self-control, too much parental control can lead to more anxiety and depression.

The results were somewhat surprising, Lengua said, because parents of children at this age are typically told to give their kids more autonomy as they learn to navigate social situations and make decisions about schedules and homework. This can butt against parents' intuition to assist kids through trickier situations.

"Parents should be there to help -- but not take over -- in difficult situations and help their children learn to navigate challenges on their own," Lengua said.

The National Institute of Mental Health funded the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cara J. Kiff, Liliana J. Lengua, Nicole R. Bush. Temperament Variation in Sensitivity to Parenting: Predicting Changes in Depression and Anxiety. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s10802-011-9539-x

Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Kids' anxiety, depression halved when parenting styled to personality." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110801094732.htm>.
University of Washington. (2011, August 1). Kids' anxiety, depression halved when parenting styled to personality. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110801094732.htm
University of Washington. "Kids' anxiety, depression halved when parenting styled to personality." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110801094732.htm (accessed March 3, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill Test Can Predict Chance Of Death Within A Decade

Treadmill Test Can Predict Chance Of Death Within A Decade

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Johns Hopkins researchers analyzed 58,000 heart stress tests to come up with a formula that predicts a person&apos;s chances of dying in the next decade. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) If a doctor advises you to remove gluten from your diet, you could get a tax deduction on the amount you spend on gluten-free foods. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis Try Swapping Success

GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis Try Swapping Success

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 2, 2015) GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis have completed a series of asset swaps worth more than $20 billion. As Grace Pascoe reports they say the deal will reshape both drugmakers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Can West Africa Rebuild After Ebola?

How Can West Africa Rebuild After Ebola?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 2, 2015) How best to rebuild the three West African countries struggling with Ebola will be discussed in Brussels this week. As Hayley Platt reports Sierra Leone has the toughest job ahead - its once thriving economy has been ravaged by the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins