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Predicting children's separation anxiety at age 6: The contributions of infant–mother attachment security, maternal sensitivity, and maternal separation anxiety

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The purpose of the present investigation was to examine the precursors and familial conditions which sustain school-aged children's separation anxiety. In a prospective, longitudinal study of 99 mother–child dyads, infancy measures of infant–mother attachment security, maternal separation anxiety, and maternal sensitivity were used to predict children's self-reported symptoms of separation anxiety at age 6. Insecurely attached children reported more separation anxiety than securely attached children. Insecure-ambivalent children reported marginally more separation anxiety than securely attached children, but not more than insecure-avoidant attached children. Regression analysis showed infant–mother attachment security and mother's sensitivity added uniquely to the prediction of children's separation anxiety, but mother's separation anxiety did not. Mediation tests show that the effect of mother's separation anxiety on children's separation anxiety may be mediated by maternal sensitivity. Research and clinical implications are discussed.
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Keywords: Separation anxiety; attachment; maternal sensitivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA 2: Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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