Background: There is growing research interest in the association between parental control and child anxiety. Parental control
may enhance child anxiety and parents may exert control in anticipation of their child's anxiety-related distress. Moreover,
high levels of anxiety in parents could influence the development of parental control. Whereas past reviews have solely examined
the relation between child anxiety and parental control, this meta-analysis focuses on the associations between both child
and parent anxiety and parental control.
Methods: The associations of parent anxiety and child anxiety with observed
parental control (k=23 studies, N= 1,305 parent-child dyads) were investigated using a meta-analytic approach. Moreover, factors
were identified that may function as moderators of these relations, such as parent and child gender, family socioeconomic
status, child age, and design and measurement characteristics.
Results: A substantial association between child anxiety
and parental control (d= .58) was found. Moderator analyses yielded the strongest effect sizes for studies with an overrepresentation
of girls, for school-aged children, for families from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, and for studies using a discussion
task to assess parental control. Although a nonsignificant relation was found for the relation between parent anxiety and
parental control (d= .08), small but significant effects were found for school-aged children, for studies using a discussion
task to assess parental control, and for samples with an overrepresentation of boys.
Conclusions: As the direction of
the association between child anxiety and parental control is unknown, future studies should use experimental designs to further
explore the causal link between child anxiety and parental control.