Parental over control (i.e.,excessive parental regulation of children’s activities and routines, encouragement of children’s dependence on parents, and instructions to children how to think and feel (McLeod et al. 2007)), as opposite to parental autonomy granting, is thought to enhance child anxiety by increasing the child’s perception of threat, reducing the child’s perceived control over threat, and withdrawing the child from opportunities to explore the environment and develop new skills to cope with unexpected events (Hudson and Rapee 2001; Rapee 1997). High levels of parental rejection (i.e., parental hostility, indifference, noninvolvement, and criticism), as opposite to parental acceptance, are thought to increase child anxiety by attacking the child’s self esteem and integrity and therewith increase the child’s sensitivity to anxiety (e.g., Gottman et al. 1997; Wood et al. 2003).


Parents and primary and high school aged children completed questionnaires to assess parenting style and anxiety.  Three main conclusions were drawn from the study.  First, different dimensions of parenting played different roles in children’s anxiety. Second, mothers and fathers played different roles in anxiety in different cohorts: maternal over control contributed uniquely in elementary school-aged children, whereas paternal over control was more important in adolescents. Third, the child’s age moderated the associations between parenting and children’s anxiety levels.

Verhoeven, M. (2012). Unique Roles of Mothering and Fathering in Child Anxiety; Moderation by Child's Age and Gender. Journal Of Child & Family Studies, 21(2), 331-343.