Skittish, shielded, and scared: Relations among behavioral inhibition, overprotective parenting, and anxiety in native and non-native Dutch preschool children

Institute of Psychology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address: .
Journal of anxiety disorders (Impact Factor: 2.68). 09/2013; 27(7):703-710. DOI: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2013.09.006
Source: PubMed


This study examined behavioral inhibition and overprotective parenting as correlates and predictors of anxiety disorder symptoms in preschoolers with a multi-cultural background (N=168). Parents of 3- to 6-year-old children completed a set of questionnaires twice, 12 months apart. Parents were also interviewed with the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for DSM-IV at the 12-month point to assess the clinical severity of children's anxiety symptoms. Behavioral inhibition consistently emerged as a significant concurrent correlate of anxiety symptoms and this was particularly true for social anxiety symptoms. Overprotective parenting also emerged as a significant correlate of anxiety, but only in the case of non-social anxiety symptoms and mainly in non-native Dutch children. Prospective analyses revealed that behavioral inhibition was a significant predictor of social anxiety symptoms, while overprotective parenting did not explain significant variance in the development of children's anxiety over time. The support for an interactive effect of behavioral inhibition and overprotective parenting was unconvincing. Finally, it was found that children who exhibited stable high levels of behavioral inhibition throughout the study ran the greatest risk for developing an anxiety disorder.

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    ABSTRACT: This study examined relationships between the self-conscious emotions of shame and guilt, behavioral inhibition (as an index of anxiety proneness), and anxiety disorder symptoms in non-clinical children aged 8-13 years (N = 126), using children's self-report data. Results showed that there were positive and significant correlations between shame and guilt, behavioral inhibition, and anxiety disorders symptoms. When controlling for the overlap between shame and guilt, it was found that shame (but not guilt) remained significantly associated with higher levels of anxiety proneness and anxiety symptoms. Further, when controlling for the effect of behavioral inhibition, shame still accounted for a significant proportion of the variance of total anxiety and generalized anxiety scores. For these anxiety problems, support emerged for a model in which shame acted as a partial mediator in the relation between behavioral inhibition and anxiety. These results indicate that the self-conscious emotion of shame is a robust correlate of anxiety pathology in children.
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