Parent–adolescent emotion-related behavior during conflict in a clinical sample

Gretchen J Buchanan, Jingchen Zhang, Meredith Gunlicks-Stoessel, Timothy F. Piehler, Sunkyung Lee, Michael Bloomquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Parents and adolescents often have conflict. Previous research has been inconsistent regarding the association between some parent behaviors during this conflict and adolescent symptoms. This study examines parents’ behaviors during a conflict resolution discussion in a clinical sample, and the relationship between parents’ behaviors and adolescents’ depression and anxiety symptoms. Methods: Depression and anxiety symptoms were self-reported by 22 adolescents of ages 13–17 who were diagnosed with depression. They also participated in an observed conflict resolution task with one parent. Using observationally coded data, we utilized two linear multiple regressions to assess how parent and adolescent emotion-related behaviors related to adolescents’ depression and anxiety symptoms. Results: Adolescents’ conflict behaviors were not associated with their psychopathology symptoms. Parent conflict behaviors of support and withdrawal were both negatively associated with adolescent depression and anxiety, with parent contempt marginally associated with adolescent depression. Conclusions: In this clinical sample, parents of adolescents with low mood or anxiety demonstrated some reduced negative parenting behaviors (i.e., contempt and withdrawal), but also reduced positive parenting behavior (i.e., support). The results suggest that when some negative parenting behaviors are reduced, this may inadvertently reinforce depressive behaviors. The results also indicate the importance of increasing supportive parent behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-537
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health Award Number UL1TR000114. The funder had no role in study design; collection, analysis and interpretation of data; writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Adolescent depression
  • adolescent anxiety
  • bidirectional relationships
  • parent behaviors
  • parent–child relationship


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