The parental overprotection scale: associations with child and parental anxiety.

Research paper by Kiri K Clarke, Peter P Cooper, Cathy C Creswell

Indexed on: 07 Aug '13Published on: 07 Aug '13Published in: Journal of Affective Disorders


Parental overprotection has commonly been implicated in the development and maintenance of childhood anxiety disorders. Overprotection has been assessed using questionnaire and observational methods interchangeably; however, the extent to which these methods access the same construct has received little attention. Edwards et al. (2008, 2010) developed a promising parent-report measure of overprotection (OP) and reported that, with parents of pre-school children, the measure correlated with observational assessments and predicted changes in child anxiety symptoms. We aimed to validate the use of the OP measure with mothers of children in middle childhood, and examine its association with child and parental anxiety.Mothers of 90 children (60 clinically anxious, 30 non-anxious) aged 7-12 years completed the measure and engaged in a series of mildly stressful tasks with their child.The internal reliability of the measure was good and scores correlated significantly with observations of maternal overprotection in a challenging puzzle task. Contrary to expectations, OP was not significantly associated with child anxiety status or symptoms, but was significantly associated with maternal anxiety symptoms.Participants were predominantly from affluent social groups and of non-minority status. Overprotection is a broad construct, the use of specific sub-dimensions of behavioural constructs may be preferable.The findings support the use of the OP measure to assess parental overprotection among 7-12 year-old children; however, they suggest that parental responses may be more closely related to the degree of parental rather than child anxiety.