Attention mechanisms have a pertinent role in shaping developmental pathways to anxiety and depressive disorders. The current study examined the direct and interactive associations between maternal anxiety symptoms, children's focused attention, and children's anxiety and depression behaviors in early toddlerhood. Participants were 150 mother-child dyads (50 % female) that were assessed at two time points. At 12 months of child age, mothers reported about their anxiety symptoms and children's focused attention. Children's focused attention was also observed and rated from an individual play task. At 18 months of age, mothers reported about children's anxiety and depression behaviors. Focused attention predicted child anxiety and depressive behaviors, with different patterns of associations between observed and reported measures of attention. There was also a significant interaction between maternal anxiety symptoms and observed children's focused attention. A positive association between maternal anxiety symptoms and child anxiety and depression symptoms was evident only for children with above-average levels of observed focused attention during play. Results suggest that different aspects of focused attention play a role in maternal reported anxiety and depression behaviors in early development and may modulate the intergenerational transmission of anxiety.
- Focused attention
- Intergenerational transmission of anxiety
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology