Emotion regulation and its relation to symptoms of anxiety and depression in children aged 8–12 years: does parental gender play a differentiating role?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBMC Psychology. 2018, 6:42 1-11. 10.1186/s40359-018-0255-y
Background: Symptoms of anxiety and depression are prevalent and highly comorbid in children, contributing to considerable impairment even at a subclinical level. Difficulties with emotion regulation are potentially related to both anxious and depressive symptoms. Research looking at maternal contributions to children ’ s mental health dominates the literature but ignores the potentially important contributions of fathers. Method: The present study is part of the Coping Kids study in Norway, a randomized controlled study of a new indicated preventive intervention for children, EMOTION. EMOTION aims to reduce levels of anxious and depressive symptoms in children aged 8 – 12 years. Using cross sectional data and multiple regression analyses, we investigated the relations between anxious and depressive symptoms and emotion regulation in n = 602 children. Symptoms were reported by the child, mothers and fathers. Emotion regulation was reported by mothers and fathers. Results: Symptoms of anxiety, as reported by parents, were associated with poorer emotion regulation. This association was also demonstrated for depressive symptoms as reported by both parents and children. When analyzing same gender reports, parental gender did not differentiate the relationship between anxiety symptoms and emotion regulation. For depressive symptoms, we did find a differentiating effect of parental gender, as the association with dysregulation of emotion was stronger in paternal reports, and the association with adaptive emotion regulation was stronger in maternal reports. When using reports from the opposite parent, the emotion regulation difficulties were still associated with depressive and anxiety symptoms, however exhibiting somewhat different emotional regulation profiles. Conclusion: Problems with emotion regulation probably coexists with elevated levels of internalizing symptoms in children. In future research, both caregivers should be included. Trial registration: The regional ethics committee (REC) of Norway approved the study. Registration number: 2013/ 1909; Project title: Coping Kids: a randomized controlled study of a new indicated preventive intervention for children with symptoms of anxiety and depression. ClinicalTrials.gov; Protocol ID 228846/H10.Emotion regulation and its relation to symptoms of anxiety and depression in children aged 8–12 years: does parental gender play a differentiating role?