Anxious Child: The Association between Helicopter Parenting and Anxiety among Primary School Students in Kedah, Malaysia

Charles Ganaprakasam, Syeda Humayra, Kalaivani Ganasegaran, Hanif Asyraf Hashim, Selvamalar Armathlingam


Anxiety disorders are prevalent among children, and thus require useful screening tools for assessment. A parenting practice is one of the vital indicators of children’s psychological well-being. However, there is a lack of empirical evidence investigating the underlying mechanism among children. Therefore, the current study investigates the SCARED instrument's reliability and factor structure and determines its association with helicopter parenting among primary school students. The online cross-sectional survey consisted of 181 respondents selected through the convenience sampling method.  The set of questionnaires was distributed through WhatsApp messenger with the assistance of school counsellors. Findings indicated that 109 (60.2%) indicated the presence of Anxiety Disorder. The factorial analysis demonstrated that the five-factor structure model of the SCARED also had a good model fit in this population with a total of 41.8% of variances. A significant association was found between helicopter parenting and social anxiety disorder (SAD), significant school avoidance (SH), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PN), and separation anxiety (SA). The study finding implies that SCARED is reliable in measuring anxiety symptoms among children and highlights the critical role of parenting in nurturing socially functional individuals. 

Keywords: SCARED, reliability, factorial structure, anxiety, helicopter parenting, Malaysia

Full Text:



Agnew, R. (2001). Building on the foundation of general strain theory: Specifying the types of strain most likely to lead to crime and delinquency. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 38(4), 319–361.

Ahmadi, A., Mustaffa, M. S., Haghdoost, A., Khan, A., & Latif, A. A. (2015). Cross-cultural adaptation of the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale in Malaysia. Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, 37(1), 37–41.

Al-Biltagi, M. & Alli Sarhan, E. (2016). Anxiety Disorder in Children: Review. Journal of Paediatric Care Insight, 1(1), 18–28.

Alfakeh, S. A., Gadah, A. A., Alharbi, K. A., Jan, F. M., Hejazi, M. S., Addas, O. K., Alamoudi, M. K., & Al Taifi, A. I. (2021). Childhood anxiety disorders prevalence in Saudi Arabia. Saudi medical journal, 42(1), 91–94.

Ang C. S. (2020). Anxiety in Malaysian children and adolescents: validation of the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED). Trends in psychiatry and psychotherapy, 42(1), 7–15.

Arab, A., El Keshky, M., Hadwin, J.A., 2016. Psychometric Properties of the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED) in a Non-Clinical Sample of Children and Adolescents in Saudi Arabia. Child Psychiatry Hum. Dev. 47, 554–562.

Baumrind D. (1967). Child care practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behavior.Genetic psychology monographs, 75(1), 43–88.

Bhatia, M. S., & Goyal, A. (2018). Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: Need for early detection. Journal of postgraduate medicine, 64(2), 75–76.

Brown, A., Creswell, C., Barker, C., Butler, S., Cooper, P., Hobbs, C., & Thirlwall, K. (2017). Guided parent-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy for children with anxiety disorders: Outcomes at 3- to 5-year follow-up. The British journal of clinical psychology, 56(2), 149– 159.

Carruthers, S., Kent, R., Hollocks, M.J., Simonoff, E., 2020. Brief Report: Testing the Psychometric Properties of the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS) and the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED) in Autism Spectrum Disorder. J. Autism Dev. Disord. 50, 2625–2632.

Cartwright-Hatton, S., Tschernitz, N., & Gomersall, H. (2005). Social anxiety in children: social skills deficit, or cognitive distortion? Behaviour research and therapy, 43(1), 131–141.

Chan, S. M., & Leung, C. H. (2015). Factor Structure of the Screen for Child Anxiety-Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED) in a Community Sample of Hong Kong Chinese Adolescents. Child psychiatry and human development, 46(5), 671–682.

Cheesman, R., Eilertsen, E.M., Ahmadzadeh, Y.I., Gjerde, L.C., Hannigan, L.J., Havdahl, A., Young, A.I., Eley, T.C., Njølstad, P.R., Magnus, P., Andreassen, O.A., Ystrom, E., McAdams, T.A., 2020. How important are parents in the development of child anxiety and depression? A genomic analysis of parent-offspring trios in the Norwegian Mother Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). BMC Med. 18, 1–11.

Cho, S., Galehan, J., 2020. Stressful Life Events and Negative Emotions on Delinquency among Korean Youth: An Empirical Test of General Strain Theory Assessing Longitudinal Mediation Analysis. Int. J. Offender Ther. Comp. Criminol. 64, 38–62.

Dahlan, R., Abd Ghani, M. N., Yahaya, R., & Tuan Hadi, T. S. (2018). Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), Terengganu, Malaysia: milestones so far and the paths to the future. London journal of primary care, 10(4), 113–117.

David Lohr, W., Daniels, K., Wiemken, T., Gail Williams, P., Kelley, R.R., Kuravackel, G., Sears, L., 2017. The screen for Child Anxiety-Related Emotional Disorders is sensitive but not specific in identifying anxiety in children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder: A pilot comparison to the achenbach system of empirically based assessment scales. Front. Psychiatry, 8 (138).

Dick, D. M., Riley, B., & Kendler, K. S. (2010). Nature and nurture in neuropsychiatric genetics: where do we stand? Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 12(1), 7–23.

Doering, S., Lichtenstein, P., Gillberg, C., Boomsma, D.I., Van Beijsterveldt, T.C.E.M., Ligthart, L., Willemsen, G., De Geus, E., Middeldorp, C.M., Bartels, M., Kuja-Halkola, R., Lundström, S., 2019. Anxiety at age 15 predicts psychiatric diagnoses and suicidal ideation in late adolescence and young adulthood: Results from two longitudinal studies. BMC Psychiatry 19, 1–11.

Dyer, M.L., Easey, K.E., Heron, J., Hickman, M., Munafò, M.R., 2019. Associations of child and adolescent anxiety with later alcohol use and disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Addiction 114, 968–982.

Ferdinand, R.F., Dieleman, G., Ormel, J., Verhulst, F.C., 2007. Homotypic versus heterotypic continuity of anxiety symptoms in young adolescents: Evidence for distinctions between DSM-IV subtypes. J. Abnorm. Child Psychol. 35, 325–333.

Ghaffar, S. F. A., Sidik, S. M., Ibrahim, N., Awang, H., & Rampal, L. R. G. (2019). Effect of a school-based anxiety prevention program among primary school children. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(24).

Ghandour, R. M., Sherman, L. J., Vladutiu, C. J., Ali, M. M., Lynch, S. E., Bitsko, R. H., & Blumberg, S. J. (2019). Prevalence and Treatment of Depression, Anxiety, and Conduct Problems in US Children. Journal of Pediatrics, 206, 256-267.e3.

Grills-Taquechel, A. E., Fletcher, J. M., Vaughn, S. R., Denton, C. A., & Taylor, P. (2013). Anxiety and inattention as predictors of achievement in early elementary school children. Anxiety, stress, and coping, 26(4), 391–410.

Hale, W. W., Raaijmakers, Q. A., García-López, L. J., Espinosa-Fernández, L., Muela, J. A., & Díaz- Castela, M. (2013). Psychometric properties of the screen for child anxiety related emotional disorders for socially anxious and healthy Spanish adolescents. The Spanish journal of psychology, 16, E25.

Hong, J. S., Kim, D. H., & Piquero, A. R. (2017). Assessing the links between punitive parenting, peer deviance, social isolation and bullying perpetration and victimization in South Korean adolescents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 73, 63-70.

Ivarsson, T., Skarphedinsson, G., Andersson, M., Jarbin, H., 2018. The Validity of the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders Revised (SCARED-R) Scale and Sub-Scales in Swedish Youth. Child Psychiatry Hum. Dev. 49, 234–243.

Janssen I. (2015). Hyper-parenting is negatively associated with physical activity among 7-12year olds. Preventive medicine, 73, 55–59.

Kaajalaakso, K., Lempinen, L., Ristkari, T., Huttunen, J., Luntamo, T., & Sourander, A. (2021). Psychometric properties of the screen for child anxiety related emotional disorders (SCARED) among elementary school children in Finland. Scandinavian journal of psychology, 62(1), 34–40.

Karunaharan, S., Ganaprakasam, C., Selvarajah, T., 2021. Does Hovering Matter? The Effect of Helicopter Parenting on Adolescents’ Suicidal Ideation. Proc. Int. Conf. Psychol. Stud. (ICPSYCHE 2020) 530, 209–216.

Lee, J., 2020. Mental health effects of school closures during COVID-19. Lancet Child Adolesc. Heal, 4, 421.

Li, F., Luo, S., Mu, W., Li, Y., Ye, L., Zheng, X., Xu, B., Ding, Y., Ling, P., Zhou, M., Chen, X., 2021. Effects of sources of social support and resilience on the mental health of different age groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Psychiatry, 21, 1–14.

Päären, A., Bohman, H., von Knorring, L., Olsson, G., von Knorring, A.L., Jonsson, U., 2014. Early risk factors for adult bipolar disorder in adolescents with mood disorders: A 15-year follow-up of a community sample. BMC Psychiatry, 14, 18–22.

Pelaez, M., Novak, G., 2020. Returning to School: Separation Problems and Anxiety in the Age of Pandemics. Behav. Anal. Pract, 13, 521–526.

Racine, N., McArthur, B.A., Cooke, J.E., Eirich, R., Zhu, J., Madigan, S., 2021. Global Prevalence of Depressive and Anxiety Symptoms in Children and Adolescents during COVID-19: A Meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatr. 175, 1142–1150.

Russell, P. S., Nair, M. K., Russell, S., Subramaniam, V. S., Sequeira, A. Z., Nazeema, S., & George, B. (2013). ADad 2: the validation of the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders for Anxiety Disorders among adolescents in a rural community population in India. Indian journal of pediatrics, 80 Suppl 2, S139–S143.

Scaini, S., Ogliari, A., De Carolis, L., Bellodi, L., Di Serio, C., & Brombin, C. (2017). Evaluation of mother-child agreement and factorial structures of the SCARED questionnaire in an Italian clinical sample. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(2), 1–10.

Scherer, N., Hameed, S., Acarturk, C., Deniz, G., Sheikhani, A., Volkan, S., Örücü, A., Pivato, I., Aklncl, Patterson, A., Polack, S., 2020. Prevalence of common mental disorders among Syrian refugee children and adolescents in Sultanbeyli district, Istanbul: Results of a population-based survey. Epidemiol. Psychiatr. Sci. 29.e192.

Shin, J., Kim, K.M., Lee, K.H., Hong, S.B., Lee, J., Choi, C.H., Han, J.Y., Kim, S.H., Suh, D.E., Cho, S.C., Kim, J.W., 2020. Psychometric properties and factor structure of the Korean version of the screen for child anxiety related emotional disorders (SCARED). BMC Psychiatry 20, 1–12.

Sigfusdottir, I. D., Kristjansson, A. L., Thorlindsson, T., & Allegrante, J. P. (2017). Stress and adolescent well-being: the need for an interdisciplinary framework. Health promotion international, 32(6), 1081–1090.

Smokowski, P.R., Bacallao, M.L., Cotter, K.L., Evans, C.B.R., 2015. The Effects of Positive and Negative Parenting Practices on Adolescent Mental Health Outcomes in a Multicultural Sample of Rural Youth. Child Psychiatry Hum. Dev, 46, 333–345.

Spielberger, C. D. (1989). State-Trait Anxiety Inventory: Bibliography (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Steele J. L. (2016). Race and General Strain Theory: Examining the Impact of Racial Discrimination and Fear on Adolescent Marijuana and Alcohol Use. Substance use & misuse, 51(12), 1637–1648.

Steinmayr, R., Crede, J., McElvany, N., Wirthwein, L., 2016. Subjective well-being, test anxiety, academic achievement: Testing for reciprocal effects. Front. Psychol, 6, 1–13.

Stern, J. A., Gadgil, M. S., Blakeley-Smith, A., Reaven, J. A., & Hepburn, S. L. (2014). Psychometric Properties of the SCARED in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Research in autism spectrum disorders, 8(9), 1225–1234.

Wang, M., Wu, X., & Wang, J. (2021). Paternal and Maternal Harsh Parenting and Chinese Adolescents' Social Anxiety: The Different Mediating Roles of Attachment Insecurity With Fathers and Mothers. Journal of interpersonal violence, 36(21-22), 9904–9923.

Wei, C., & Kendall, P. C. (2014). Child Perceived Parenting Behavior: Childhood Anxiety and Related Symptoms. Child & family behavior therapy, 36(1), 1–18.

Xu, J., Ni, S., Ran, M., Zhang, C., 2017. The relationship between parenting styles and adolescents’ social anxiety in migrant families: A study in Guangdong, China. Front. Psychol. 8, 1–7.


  • There are currently no refbacks.


The editors and publisher of Jurnal Psikologi Malaysia have made every possible effort to verify the accuracy of all information contained in this publication. Any opinions, discussions, views and recommendations expressed in the article are solely those of the authors and are not of Jurnal Psikologi Malaysia, its editors or its publisher. Jurnal Psikologi Malaysia, its editors and its publisher will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising therefrom.