Anxiety symptoms are among the most commonly observed psychiatric diseases during childhood and adolescence (Asbahr, 2004) and these life stages are considered the core risk phases for their development (Beesdo et al., 2009). The main aim of the present study was to explore possible risk and protective factors of anxiety, therefore we analyzed if and to what extent self-esteem and emotional quality of parent-child relationship may influence the presence of anxiety symptoms during adolescence. We referred to a community sample of 552 adolescents (59.8% females and 40.2% males) with a mean age of 15.8 years (sd = 1.9 years; range 13.1 - 20.1 years). Subjects were administered a socio-demographic questionnaire, the Self-Image Questionnaire (SELF), the maternal and the paternal forms of the Lum Emotional Availability of Parents (LEAP), and the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS). Correlational analyses showed significantly positive associations between self-esteem and parental relationship both in the female and in the male sample. In addition, we found a negative correlation between self-esteem and the total anxiety symptoms score (r = -.459; p < .001). By means of several linear regression analyses with the SCAS total score and its sub-scales (i.e., separation anxiety, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, physical injury fears) as dependent variables, we observed that self-esteem and gender resulted to be the most significant predictors; the maternal relationship was a significant predictor only for separation anxiety and social anxiety; the paternal relationship was a significant predictor for social anxiety, generalized anxiety and the SCAS total score. Overall our study highlighted the importance to evaluate adolescents’ self-esteem and their emotional relationship with both mothers and fathers, since these variables may play a protective or a risk role in the onset of anxiety symptoms during this stage of life.
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