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Shyness, parenting and parent-child relationships

Shyness, Parenting and Parent-Child Relationships
Paul D. Hastings1, Jacob N. Nuselovici1, Kenneth H. Rubin2, & Charissa S.L. Cheah3
1 Concordia University
2 University of Maryland College Park
3 University of Maryland – Baltimore County
Paul D. Hastings, Ph.D.
Centre for Research in Human Development Department of Psychology
Concordia University
Montreal, Canada
Shyness, Parenting and Parent-Child Relationships
The mother and her daughter were seated on the floor, looking at a set of dolls and toys set before
them. The experimenter had just set up a situation in which the mother and daughter arrived late at
daycare to find three other children playing while the teacher looked on. The experimenter looked at
them and said “Now you finish the story. What happens next?”
In response, the 2 ½ year-old girl happily moved ‘her doll’ toward the other doll ‘children’.
She took the ball from the other ‘children’ and showed her mother how she could kick it. Her
mother said “You can kick it to the other kids,” and the girl did. As she continued to play with the
dolls, her mother said: “Okay, it’s time for Mommy to go to work.” “No!” the girl said, her eyes
wide. She took the ‘mother’ doll and moved it further into the room, beside her own doll. “No, you
stay,” the girl asserted, and then resumed her play with the ball. The mother turned to the
experimenter with a surprised expression and said “Well, I guess I know what to expect in
September when she starts daycare!”
Three months later, the girl was visited at daycare, and she was observed to be calm and
happy, sometimes playing with her classmates and sometimes coloring on her own. According to her
teacher, this was a normal day for this sociable little girl.
This anecdote was taken from one family that participated in one of our studies of young
children’s early social and emotional development. Most children are socially competent and
comfortable with engaging in mutually pleasing interactions with their peers, like this little girl. Some
children are not. An expression of distress at the prospect of being separated from their parents can
foretell such children’s difficulty with social activities, their reluctance to play, and their tendency to
withdraw from others – although this was not the case with this girl. There has been a great deal of
interest in understanding why some children are shy whereas others are sociable, even though they
might show some early “warning signs” for shyness. In this chapter, we consider the evidence that
parents play a substantial role in shaping their children’s development of shyness and social
In paraphrasing an old African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child,” Hilary Clinton (1996)
emphasized that children are socialized not only by parents and families, but also by their
surrounding community and culture. In doing so, she echoed the tenets of Bronfenbrenner’s (2006)
bioecological model of development. A child’s direct interactions with parents and other people in
day-to-day life form a social microsystem, which is embedded within ever broader social structures
such as neighborhoods and schools (mesosystem), community resources (exosystem), and cultural
practices and values (macrosystem). Connections between and across these systems unfold over time
(chronosystem), shaping the child’s immediate behavior and longer-term development. Until later
childhood or adolescence, however, children have less direct contact with the broader, external
systems than with the microsystem, and therefore many of these broader systems’ influences are
filtered through the child’s day-to-day social partners. Thus, the stresses and strengths of
neighborhoods, communities and cultures principally have indirect effects on young children, via
their effects upon parents. Children’s parents are their first and most enduring social partners, and
for most children, parents have the greatest responsibility and opportunity to contribute to the
course of their development.
This is not to disregard the active roles of children themselves in their own development.
The individual temperaments of children, their innate behavioral and emotional tendencies, make
them more or less prone to shyness, or a consistent and persistent tendency to avoid or withdraw
from others in social situations (e.g., Degnan & Fox, 2007; Fox, Henderson, Marshall, Nichols, &
Ghera, 2005). Children’s characteristics also serve as stimuli that elicit parental responses and create
opportunities for socialization (e.g., Rubin, Nelson, Hastings, & Asendorpf, 1999). Thus, as well as
being influenced by parents, children influence their parents’ child-rearing behaviors, in accord with
bidirectional (Bell, 1979) and transactional (Sameroff, 1975) perspectives on socialization. A child
and a parent are continuously acting and reacting to each other, creating a dynamic and developing
relationship that can be regarded as the context of socialization (Kuczynski & Parkin, 2007). These
transactional processes are nested within the history of the parent-child relationship; parents and
children perceive, interpret, respond to and learn from each other’s actions based on their past
shared experiences and their future expectations.
Socialization researchers have approached the study of parenting from myriad perspectives, each of
which has informed our understanding of the links between parenting and children’s shyness. More
than 40 years ago, Schaeffer (1959) and Becker (1964) identified parental psychological control,
reflected in such practices as manipulating the parent-child emotional bond (e.g., love withdrawal)
and anxious over-intrusiveness, as likely to undermine children’s development of autonomy.
Psychological control was somewhat neglected by parenting researchers for almost 30 years,
however, before renewed interest began to confirm its role in children’s risk for shyness (e.g., Barber
et al., 1994; Rubin & Mills, 1998). Rather, the majority of socialization research in the latter quarter
of the 20th century used the framework of broad parenting styles, and particularly Baumrind’s (1971)
conceptualization of authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and neglectful parenting (Maccoby &
Martin, 1983). This approach identified authoritarian parenting, or a pattern of rigid, punitive, or
harsh restrictive control, as likely to lead to withdrawal and shyness in children – along with a host
of other emotional and behavioral problems. Simultaneously, attachment researchers examined
young children’s sense of security within the parent-child relationship as the foundation for their
confident engagement with the social world (Ainsworth et al., 1978). Failing to establish a secure
working relationship with the primary care-giver was expected to set a child on a path toward social
difficulties. These three lines of research – attachment, parenting styles, and psychological control –
continue to dominate the study of the socialization of shyness.
In addition, researchers have recently begun to consider how a range of more specific
parenting behaviors might contribute to children’s development of shyness and related problems
(e.g., Bayer et al., 2006; McLeod et al., 2007). In accord with risk and protective models that
characterize developmental psychopathology (Cummings, Davies, & Campbell, 2000), these studies
are focused not only on maladaptive parenting, but also include consideration of such positive
parenting practices as warmth and induction that might diminish children’s shyness and promote
social competence. Studying specific parenting practices can complement the other lines of research
by identifying which particular components of, for example, authoritarian styles are most closely
linked to children’s risk of developing shyness, rather than other adjustment problems. Knowing
what aspects of parenting “matter most” for shyness, in turn, can help to inform the design of
targeted prevention and intervention efforts to address maladaptive parenting.
We now consider the literature on the links between children’s shyness and parenting styles,
attachment relationships, psychological control, and other parenting behaviors. This review is
organized developmentally, from infancy through adolescence. It should be recognized that the vast
majority of research on parental socialization of shyness has involved mothers but not fathers; thus,
less is known about the possible contributions of paternal socialization to the development of
shyness. We consider the limited research on fathers after reviewing the more substantive literature
on mothers’ parenting.
Infancy and toddlerhood (0-24 mo)
The earliest roots of shyness and social withdrawal lie in infants’ temperamental reactivity, the
sensitivity and appropriateness of maternal care, and the formation of the mother-infant attachment
relationship. Young infants who show strongly negative emotional reactions are likely to develop
inhibited temperaments, showing wariness to novelty and withdrawal from unfamiliar people
(Degnan & Fox, 2007). Caring for these infants is demanding for parents, and some mothers of
reactive and inhibited infants can have difficulty being sensitive, responsive and appropriately
supportive of their infants’ needs (Kiang, Moreno, & Robinson, 2004). This combination of
temperamental vulnerability and maternal insensitivity increases the likelihood that infants will fail to
establish a secure attachment (Bowlby, 1980). Securely attached infants appear capable of using their
mothers as a trustworthy source of support and assurance, such that they can leave the mothers
immediate proximity to explore their surroundings with a sense of safety. Infants who form an
insecure attachment relationship do not benefit from these competencies, and it has been suggested
that temperamentally inhibited infants with insensitive mothers may be particularly likely to form an
ambivalent (‘C’) attachment (Booth-LaForce & Oxford, 2008). Ambivalently attached infants do not
seem able to cope with new challenges or social situations and thus, fearing failure or rejection, they
withdraw from interactions.
Several studies have provided support for this model. Insecurely attached infants, and
particularly infants with ambivalent attachments, are more likely to be fearful and inhibited toddlers
(Fox & Calkins, 1992; Kochanska, 1998; Matas, Arend, & Sroufe, 1978; Spangler & Schieche, 1998)
and to be withdrawn or lacking confidence in the preschool and school-age years (Erickson, Sroufe,
& Egeland, 1985; Renken, Egeland, Marvinney, Sroufe, & Mangelsdorf, 1989). Recently, Booth-
LaForce and Oxford (2008) demonstrated that children with less secure attachment at 24 months
were described by teachers as more shy throughout the elementary school-age period. Clearly,
children’s early attachment relationships are important foundations for their later social
development. This does not imply that children’s social proclivities have been set in stone by 24
months, regardless of subsequent parental socialization experiences. In fact, Booth-LaForce and
Oxford (2008) showed that early attachment did not directly predict later shyness when maternal
parenting in the preschool years was taken into account. Thus, children’s social tendencies continue
to be malleable and subject to influence by maternal socialization.
Psychological control is particularly linked to young children’s propensity for shyness and
social withdrawal. Rubin, Hastings, et al. (1997) identified a pattern of over-protective control, or
oversolicitous parenting, that includes intrusive and unnecessary micromanagement of a child’s
independent activities, and strong affection in the absence of child distress or need for comforting.
This pattern of parenting undermines the young child’s autonomy by denying opportunities to
practice coping with developmentally normative challenges and by communicating that the child is
incapable of handling tasks without parental assistance. More oversolicitous mothers had 24 month-
old children who were more withdrawn from an unfamiliar peer and inhibited with an unfamiliar
adult (Rubin et al., 1997). This was particularly true of toddlers who were highly temperamentally
fearful, indicating that vulnerable children might be more prone to the adverse effects of
inappropriate maternal socialization. Recently, Bayer and colleagues (2006) replicated the association
between mothers’ over-protective control and toddlers’ anxious difficulties, including withdrawal
from unfamiliar peers.
Mothers’ psychological control also contributes to toddlers’ later development of shyness.
Rubin, Burgess, and Hastings (2002) found that withdrawn toddlers with highly oversolicitous
mothers were likely to still be reticent with unfamiliar peers two years hence, but withdrawn toddlers
with less solicitous mothers were not. Similarly, Bayer and colleagues (2006) found that mothers
who were over-protective of toddlers had children with more anxiety-related problems two years
later. In addition, Rubin and colleagues (2002) noted parallel relations for a second feature of
psychological control, derisive or over-critical parenting. Parents who are derogatory and rejecting
threaten their children’s confidence in the parent-child relationship, eroding children’s self-worth
and trust in others (Barber & Harmon, 2002). Withdrawn toddlers with derisive mothers were likely
to become reticent preschoolers, but withdrawn toddlers with mothers who did not express derision
were not likely to maintain reticent behaviors (Rubin et al., 2002). Thus, emotionally manipulative
overcontrol, whether effusively affectionate or chillingly negative, appears to keep toddlers on stable
trajectories toward shyness and withdrawal.
One group of researchers has reported that mothers who were more intrusive during
interactions with their 18 month-old boys at home had sons who were less inhibited during
laboratory tasks when they were 3 years old, especially if boys had shown high negative emotionality
in infancy (Park, Belsky, Putnam, & Crnic, 1997). On first glance, this might appear to contradict the
previously-described studies of psychological control. However, their conceptualization of “intrusive
parenting” reflected mothers making their infant sons engage in activities that appeared to be
counter to the boys’ wishes, which is rather the opposite of placing limits on children’s activities
(which is characteristic of over-protective control). Emotionally reactive children might show some
distress from being made to handle normative events which they would rather not, but when
mothers provide these experiences they might promote their children’s ability to cope with such
everyday challenges.
It is fortunate that research has not only identified ‘poor parenting’ that increases children’s
risk for the development of shyness. Importantly, we know that there are also maternal actions that
might protect young children from following trajectories toward shyness. For example, mothers’
sensitivity to infants’ cues diminished the likelihood that highly wary infants would be nervous and
withdrawn in kindergarten (Early et al., 2002). Similarly, mothers who were engaged with their
toddlers, appropriately structuring activities and showing warmth through praise and positive affect,
had children who displayed fewer anxiety-related problems as preschoolers (Bayer et al., 2006).
These positive features of mothers’ care for infants and toddlers appear to set the stage for young
children’s progression toward the development of greater social competence.
Preschool (2 – 5 yr)
The research on the associations between maternal socialization and shyness in the preschool period
is largely consistent with the pattern just described in infancy. More shy, withdrawn and inhibited
preschoolers have more overprotective mothers (e.g., McShane & Hastings, in press), less
authoritative mothers (e.g., Coplan, Findlay, & Nelson, 2004), or mothers who are less sensitive,
supportive and encouraging of autonomous activities (e.g., Dumas, LaFreniere, & Serketich, 1995),
and the children and mothers are less likely to have secure attachment relationships (LaFreniere,
Provost, & Dubeau, 1992; Shamir-Essakow et al., 2005). Studies have also indicated the contexts in
which inappropriate maternal parenting has greater influence on children’s shyness, how various
child vulnerabilities make children more susceptible to maternal influence, and that socialization in
preschool continues to shape children’s social behavior in later years.
One aspect of over-protective or oversolicitous parenting that has confounded some
socialization researchers is that it appears to contain elements of “good” parenting. Are not parents
supposed to be highly involved and affectionate with their young children? Alas, mothers who are too
contingent (Malatesta, Culver, Tesman, & Shepard, 1989) or too comforting (Denham, 1993) can
undermine children’s social-emotional competence. Thomasgard and Metz (1993) proposed that one
of the features distinguishing normative and appropriate parental protection from maladaptive
overprotection was the extent to which the situation or context of parent-child interaction warranted
high levels of parental direction and affection. Rubin, Cheah, and Fox (2001) examined mothers’
patterns of being physically close, warm and controlling with their 4 year-old children in two
contexts, free play and a structured teaching task that was quite difficult for children. Interestingly,
mothers were not consistent in their displays of such ‘solicitous’ behaviors across contexts. Mothers
who were more solicitous during free play – when children could be expected to be calm and not
needing such actions – had preschoolers who were more reticent during interactions with peers.
Conversely, mothers who used more of these same behaviors during the teaching task – when
children might be challenged and distressed – had preschoolers who were less reticent, especially if
children had relatively weak emotional self-regulation and thus greater need for maternal
involvement during stressful tasks. Thus, the demands of a situation and the child’s needs in that
situation appear to define whether a given maternal response will be effective or detrimental for
supporting a child’s competent behavior and positive development.
Preschoolers’ capacities for self-regulation of emotional arousal appear to affect the extent to
which they might be influenced by parental socialization (Hastings & De, 2008). Well-regulated
children respond to challenging social situations more appropriately and calmly, such that are more
likely to cope competently even without the benefit of effective socialization. Conversely, children
who are relatively poor at self-regulation are more dependent upon external sources of support for
effective regulation, such as appropriately supportive parenting, in order to develop comparable
levels of positive functioning. They are also more susceptible to the adverse effects of psychological
control, placing them at greater risk for shyness and withdrawal. Hastings, Sullivan and colleagues
(2008) examined this proposal using children’s cardiac vagal tone as an indicator of their
physiological capacity for self-regulation through parasympathetic control of autonomic arousal.
Children with lower vagal tone (less parasympathetic self-regulation) were more reticent with peers
only if they had more overprotective mothers. Further, maternal socialization might even affect
preschoolers’ physiological capacity for self-regulation. Mothers who were more negative, critical
and restrictive had preschoolers who manifested lower vagal tone during play interactions with
unfamiliar children (Hastings, Nuselovici et al., 2008), suggesting they responded to the situation as a
threat rather than an opportunity for social engagement. This state of under-regulated arousal could
motivate children to withdraw from peers.
The adverse affects of mothers’ psychological control of preschoolers also continue over
time, contributing to children’s shyness in the elementary school period. Paralleling what has been
found over the transition from toddler to preschool-age (Rubin et al., 2002), it has also been
reported that socially withdrawn preschoolers with more oversolicitous mothers are, three years
later, likely to be more shy and withdrawn, compared to children with less solicitous mothers
(Degnan, Henderson, Fox, & Rubin, 2008). Examining the links between parenting of preschoolers
and social withdrawal in grades 1 to 6, Booth-LaForce and Oxford (2008) found that mothers who
were more supportive and respectful of preschoolers’ autonomy, and expressed less hostility, had
children who were the least socially withdrawn throughout the elementary school years. Conversely,
children who were highly withdrawn during the elementary school years were more likely to have
experienced maternal parenting in preschool that was hostile, unsupportive, and discouraged
autonomy. These children were also more likely to be unpopular, excluded from peer activities, and
lonely (Booth-LaForce & Oxford, 2008). Clearly, inappropriate maternal socialization in the
preschool period can set the stage for lasting social difficulties and distress.
Childhood (610 yr)
Compared to the literature on younger children, there have been fewer studies of the links between
shyness and parental socialization during childhood and beyond. Of course, as children proceed
through elementary school and toward adolescence, other agents of socialization become
increasingly involved in their lives. Children spend more time at school and in extracurricular
activities that do not include parents. Peers and friends, teachers, and non-familial adults (e.g.,
coaches) all help to shape children’s ongoing development. However, parents do not stop their
involvement in their children’s lives, and parental socialization continues to make important
contributions to social and emotional functioning as children age.
Maternal parenting in childhood can affect the stability of children’s earlier shy
characteristics. Shyness and reticence in preschoolers was found to predict social withdrawal at 7
years only if children’s mothers were more negatively controlling and showed less positive affect
during their interactions with their school-age children (Hane, Cheah, Rubin, & Fox, 2008). Control,
warmth and responsiveness are also concurrently associated with children’s shyness. Compared to
mothers of sociable children, mothers of highly withdrawn children use more strong imperatives and
are less likely to respond to children’s bids during interactions involving another child (Mills &
Rubin, 1998). Similarly, mothers who issue more directives and are less warm when discussing
solutions to hypothetical social problems have children who are lonely, and described by peers as
sad, alone and disliked, both concurrently and one year later (McDowell, Parke, & Wang, 2003). The
quality of family relationships also continues to be important, as ambivalent attachment continues to
be particularly characteristic of socially anxious children (Brumariu & Kerns, 2008), and socially
withdrawn children’s perceptions of their families as negative and emotionally distant increases their
risk for depression (Gullone, Ollendick, & King, 2006).
Considering these studies, it would appear that the parenting experiences of shy and
withdrawn children have changed by school-age. There is less evidence that shy children continue to
experience overly affectionate parenting, or intrusive control coupled with very high warmth. Rather
than being oversolicitous, the mothers of shy school-age children appear to behave in a more
“classically authoritarian” style, continuing to be very controlling but showing less warmth or
positive affect toward their children. It might be the case that, as children reach an age when most
parents would expect more autonomy and competence, mothers of shy children become less
accepting or patient with the continued neediness or distress of their children. This is a theme we
will return to when we examine the belief systems of parents of shy children.
Adolescence (1116 yr)
There have been very few studies in which the relations between parenting and shyness or
withdrawal have been studied in adolescence. However, some insight might be gleaned from the
larger body of clinical studies that have examined the parenting experiences of adolescents with
anxiety problems, given that withdrawal is a symptom of social anxiety disorder. Hudson and Rapee
(2001, 2002) studied children and youth with diagnosed anxiety disorders and their mothers during
cognitively challenging tasks, and found that these mothers displayed more negativity and intrusive
involvement than mothers of non-clinically diagnosed children. Normatively, one would expect
maternal control to decrease from childhood to adolescence, as children’s capacity for autonomous
activity increases. This developmental difference in maternal involvement was found only for the
mothers of typical children; mothers of clinically anxious 12-15 year-old adolescents were likely to be
just as intrusive and over-involved as mothers of clinically anxious 7-11 year-old children (Hudson &
Rapee, 2001). Furthermore, this pattern of parenting appeared to be more attributable to mothers’
approach to child-rearing than to anxious children’s elicitation of over-involvement, because these
mothers were just as intrusive with the undiagnosed (typical) siblings of anxious children and
adolescents (Hudson & Rapee, 2002). These studies support earlier retrospective studies that socially
phobic adults remember their parents as overcontrolling and less affectionate than non-phobic
adults (e.g., Arrindell, Emmelkamp, Monsma, & Brilman, 1983).
Among non-clinical community samples, Barber, Olsen, and Shagle (1994) found that
maternal- and child-reported psychological control, incorporating overprotection, criticism and love
withdrawal, was related to self-reported internalizing difficulties in 5th-, 8th-, and 10th- graders.
McCabe, Clark, and Barnett (1999) reported a negative relation between maternally reported
supportive behavior and teacher-reported social withdrawal and shyness in 6th graders. More
recently, van Brakel, Muris, Bogels and Thomassen (2006), found that for 11-to-15 year-olds
identified as inhibited and insecure, parental control was significantly associated with anxiety. Finally,
in a longitudinal study, Rubin and colleagues (Rubin, Chen, et al., 1995) reported that 11 year-olds
who were more socially withdrawn were more likely to report feeling insecure and disconnected with
parents when they were 14 years old. Thus, similar to the research with shy children and anxious
adolescents, the family contexts of shy and withdrawn youth appear to involve unsupportive,
negative and overcontrolling parents.
To date, there have been virtually no dedicated studies of the contributions of parenting in
childhood to the development of shyness and withdrawal from childhood into adolescence. In a
recent study of the transition from elementary-to-middle school, Kennedy Root and Rubin (2009)
hypothesized that the stability of children’s shyness from elementary school to middle school (early
adolescence) would be moderated by children’s experiences of intrusive or enmeshed parenting.
Peers in the two school contexts reported on children’s behaviors, and indeed, the stability of
shyness was highest for children whose mothers were the most intrusive or enmeshed – and also for
those children whose mothers were the most punitive. Clearly, these findings are consistent with
previous research (e.g., Hane et al., 2008), and support the conclusion that a continued pattern of
intrusively over-involved, restrictive and negative parenting maintains or exacerbates the stability of
shy and withdrawn behavior through childhood and into adolescence.
Fathering and children’s shyness and social withdrawal
Although there have been far fewer investigations of paternal socialization, a small number of
studies provide some insight into the associations between fathers’ parenting and the development
of children’s shyness. Although some researchers have reported that paternal attachment and
parenting are not associated with children’s shyness (LaFreniere, Provost, & Dubeau, 1992), more
have documented support for the potential importance of fathers’ contributions to children’s
shyness. In general, the pattern of associations is consistent with those noted for maternal
As they reported for mothers, Park and colleagues (1997) found that fathers who were less
supportive, less affectionate, more negative and more intrusive with their 18 and 30 month-old sons
had boys who were less inhibited at 3 years, especially if the boys had been emotionally negative
infants. This study stands in stark contrast to most research, but as the investigators acknowledged,
this might have been due to the nature of their observational and coding procedures. What was
characterized as being unresponsive and demanding might have “actually reflected a parent’s
sensitive awareness that a child was inhibited, which motivated the parent to ‘push’ or otherwise
encourage the child to master his anxieties” (p. 225).
In early childhood, McShane and Hastings (in press) found that fathers who were more
critical and less supportive had children who were more anxious and isolated at preschool. The
benefits of fathers’ supportive parenting and the risks of fathers’ psychological control for young
children’s reticent behavior were strongest for children with poor self-regulatory abilities (Hastings,
Sullivan et al., 2008). In both of these examinations, fathers’ parenting added incrementally to the
prediction of children’s behavior, after accounting for maternal socialization. Thus, children’s
experiences of paternal socialization appear to be important for their development of shyness and
social withdrawal.
With school-age children, Parke and colleagues (McDowell et al., 2003; Rah & Parke, 2008)
have also found that children who experience greater directive control or less responsive parenting
from fathers are less liked by and involved with peers, and are less able to generate positive goals
and effective strategies to resolve social dilemmas. Again, these paternal contributions were
independent of any effects of maternal parenting. Finally, working with pre-adolescents, Miller and
colleagues (2005) found that boys with fathers who were less responsive and supportive during
discussions were shyer at school, whereas mothers’ behavior was not associated with sons’ shyness.
Overall, this small set of studies indicates that children’s shyness is associated with fathers’
parenting in ways that are similar to its link with mothers’ parenting. There is less consistent
evidence for the risk entailed by fathers’ oversolicitousness (McShane & Hastings, in press) than for
derision and strict over-control, which might reflect differences between parents in their likelihood
to shelter children (Parke & Buriel, 1998). Further, it is clear that paternal socialization is not just a
“by-product” of maternal child-rearing. At least for children with both a mother and a father,
fathers’ parenting might be just as important as mothers’ parenting for shaping children’s social
comfort and competence with peers (Parke, 1995). It is evident that more attention to the roles of
fathers in the socialization of children’s shyness is warranted.
Looking at the parents of shy children
Parent characteristics. Recognizing that research has documented consistent associations
between specific patterns of parenting and children’s likelihood of being shy, it is important to
understand why some parents adopt the maladaptive socialization practices that put their children at
risk. Some researchers have considered maternal personality and psychopathology. Mothers who are
neurotic, or easily psychologically distressed, or who themselves have anxiety or affective problems,
are more likely to have inhibited, shy or anxious children (Ellenbogen & Hodgins, 2004; Zahn-
Waxler, Klimes-Dougan & Slattery, 2000). While there are undoubtedly genetic commonalities
contributing to mother and child similarity in social wariness, the socialization behaviors of anxiety-
prone mothers might also convey risk for shyness to their children. Mothers who are shy, anxious,
prone to psychological distress, or neurotic have been found to be more controlling, overprotective
and derisive in their parenting, and also less responsive (Bögels, van Oosten, Muris, & Smulders,
2001; Clark, Kochanska, & Ready, 2000; Coplan, Arbeau, & Armer, 2008; Mills et al., 2007),
particularly if their children are shy (Coplan, Reichel, & Rowan, 2009). The links between maternal
anxiety and children’s anxious difficulties have been found to be at least partly attributable to
anxious mothers’ greater use of overprotective parenting (Bayer et al., 2006).
Clearly, mothers with neurotic personalities or anxious tendencies appear likely to engage in
socialization practices that would inculcate anxiety or shyness in their own children. There are also
other direct and indirect ways in which these maternal characteristics could affect children’s social
and emotional development. Neurotic or anxious mothers are likely to experience and express more
distress and negative affect in the context of parenting. Repeated exposure to maternal distress
might undermine children’s sense of security, and children might model mothers’ maladaptive
behaviors in their own social interactions with others. As well, anxious mothers might avoid social
situations that they could find stressful, such as play-groups, sporting teams or public events, and
thereby deny their children the opportunities to experience and successfully cope with group
activities. Additional research will be needed to determine the extent to which such mechanisms
contribute to the links between mothers’ personal characteristics and children’s likelihood of
becoming shy.
Parental beliefs. Considerable work has also gone into examining the parental belief systems,
or parenting cognitions, that can underlie socialization practices that inculcate shyness. Parental
beliefs comprise the ways in which parents think and feel about their children and themselves as
parents. This includes the causal explanations or attributions parents make for children’s behavior,
the socialization goals they have while parenting, the strategies they consider appropriate to use with
children, their sense of efficacy or competency as parents, and the emotions they experience in the
context of child-rearing. These dynamic belief systems contribute to how parents respond to
children’s behaviors during interactions, and to broader aspects of child-rearing such as the ways in
which parents establish the home environment (Bugental & Goodnow, 1998). They are also
contextually-bound and malleable, as parental beliefs change adaptively across child-rearing
situations, and children’s behaviors and characteristics contribute to parental beliefs (Hastings &
Rubin, 1999).
When asked to think about their young children displaying shyness or social withdrawal,
most mothers (and fathers) have reported that they would feel surprised or confused, that they
would expect the behavior to be transient or a passing stage, that they would want their children to
feel better, and that they would avoid being overtly controlling by using indirect responses, such as
planning future play dates (Hastings & Rubin, 1999; Mills & Rubin, 1990). However, mothers of
socially withdrawn preschoolers respond quite differently when asked to think about their children
being shy with peers. These mothers report more negative emotions including disappointment and
guilt, view the shy behavior as dispositional or characteristic of their children, and suggest becoming
directly involved to change their children’s immediate behavior (Rubin & Mills, 1990). These
parental beliefs appear, at least in part, to be reactions to parents’ experiences of raising inhibited or
shy children. Indeed, more inhibited or fearful toddlers have mothers and fathers who become
increasingly less encouraging of their children’s independence over time (Rubin, Nelson, Hastings, &
Asendorpf, 1999), and mothers who are less confused by preschoolers’ shyness and more likely to
become directly involved by comforting and playing (Hastings & Rubin, 1999). Thus, although their
actions are likely motivated by compassion and the desire to prevent their children becoming
distressed, parents appear to react to their young children’s early displays of social difficulty in ways
that could be expected to exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, shyness.
The picture presented above appears to change after the preschool period, however. Most
parents know that social skills should improve with age, and they feel increasingly negatively about
socially inappropriate behaviors from older children (Dix, 1991). Compared to mothers of socially
competent elementary school-age children, mothers of withdrawn children report shyness as less
surprising (probably due to their children’s dispositional characteristics), and less amenable to
change through parental efforts (Mills & Rubin, 1993). When mothers of highly withdrawn
preschoolers were interviewed two years later, they saw their children as responsible for their shy
behavior, which they expected to remain stable over time (Rubin & Mills, 1992). These studies
suggest that mothers of shy children become more resigned or pessimistic over time, and less patient
with their older children’s social difficulties. This might contribute to the afore-noted developmental
shift in the associations of parenting with children’s shyness, with the coddling oversolicitousness of
preschoolers becoming replaced with critical authoritarian control of school-age and older children.
Unfortunately, neither pattern of socialization would be likely to help shy children cope better with
their social wariness and develop greater social confidence and competence.
Contexts of parenting: Culture and the socialization of shyness
From Bronfenbrenner’s (2006) bioecological perspective, the surrounding community and culture
serve as contexts of parenting and socialization. How parents of shy children think, feel and act are
shaped by their cultural milieus, and parents in turn transfer those cultural messages about shyness
to their children (see Chen, this volume). Although the majority of research on the socialization of
shyness has been conducted in North America and Western Europe, the past decade has seen the
emergence of interest in cross-cultural perspectives.
In Western culture, autonomy and assertiveness are valued, and shyness in children is
considered socially immature, maladaptive and undesirable (Rubin & Asendorpf, 1993). Conversely,
the traditional Confucian and Taoist philosophies of China promote self-restraint and discourage
individualism or self-promotion (King & Bond, 1985), and inhibited and wary behaviors in children
have been viewed as appropriate and valued (Chen, Rubin, & Sun, 1992). Research has shown this
difference in cultural values to be reflected in parenting. Comparing mothers in Canada and
Mainland China, Chen, Hastings, Rubin and colleagues (1998) found that Chinese mothers were
more accepting and encouraging of achievement, and less controlling, of more inhibited toddlers;
Canadian mothers of inhibited toddlers were more controlling and protective, and less accepting and
encouraging of achievement. Chinese mothers’ more positive responses to inhibition might
contribute to the more competent and socially accepted trajectories shown by shy Chinese children,
compared to their Western counterparts (Chen, Rubin, & Li, 1995).
Just like people, though, cultures can change as they develop, and there has been a rapid
course of ‘Westernization’ in contemporary Chinese society, such that shyness may now be viewed
as less adaptive and beneficial. Examining the correlates of shyness in Chinese children over 12
years, Chen, Cen, Li, and He (2005) found that shyness was more strongly associated with social and
academic achievement in a 1990 than in a 1998 cohort, and by 2002 shyness was associated with
peer rejection, school problems and depression. Paralleling this, a more recent study of parenting
and shyness in China showed that children’s withdrawal, reticence and solitary behaviors were
associated with mothers’ coercion, directiveness, overprotection and shaming (Nelson, Hart, Wu,
Yang, & Olsen, 2008).
South Korea’s ties to Western cultures and values predate those of China, and research on
shyness and parenting beliefs in Korea, China and North America indicate several points of
convergence and divergence across the three cultures (Cheah & Rubin, 2004; Park & Cheah, 2006).
Although all mothers report negative emotional responses to withdrawal, Chinese and Korean
mothers are more likely than European American mothers to attribute withdrawal to external causes
than are European American mothers. Conversely, both South Korean and European American
mothers prioritize goals of making the child feel happy and more self-confident in response to social
withdrawal, which they approach by trying to obtain the child’s perspectives regarding his or her
solitary behavior, whereas Chinese mothers seek to promote the child’s functioning for the
betterment of the peer group. These differences suggest Chinese mothers still approach parenting
from Confucian perspectives more strongly than do Korean mothers, who blend Eastern and
Western values in their beliefs about shyness. These findings are augmented by a recent report by
Park, Song, and Rubin (2008) who found that Korean toddlers’ inhibition predicted their shyness
and reticence at preschool-age when their mothers had been more overprotective, mirroring findings
in Western samples (Rubin et al., 2002).
The cultural perspectives on children and family in Southern Europe differ in many ways
from those of Northern Europe and North America (Rubin et al., 2006). Luck or fate is seen as a
dominant force in shaping development, and strong connections with extended family are favored
over ties with peers, which might account for Italian mothers reporting less strong emotional
responses to children’s shyness than did English-Canadian mothers, but more internal attributions
(e.g., stable, hard to change) (Schneider, Attili, Vermigli, & Younger, 1997). However, it might also
be the case that cultural beliefs around socialization not only vary between countries, but even
between communities within a country. Sicilian parents value assertiveness and sociability (Casiglia,
LoCoco, & Zappulla, 1998), and report less acceptance and more authoritarian parenting of
inhibited toddlers (Rubin et al., 2006). Analogously, differences between accepting versus protective
responses to children’s shyness have been noted in communities in Yucatan, Mexico that differ in
their attributions about the sources of problems (Cervera & Méndez, 2006).
Taken together, these findings suggest that parents’ approaches to the rearing of shy children
are nested within the broader cultural context that dictates whether inhibited, withdrawn and shy
behaviors are seen as problematic, immature, and interfering with social success, or as acceptable
and conducive toward group harmony. Culture is not static, however, and changes in the roles or
characteristics that define success within a culture might lead to changes in parents’ attitudes and
behaviors toward shy children. Thus, cross-cultural research on socialization would benefit from the
use of longitudinal designs and inclusion of parents’ identification with the dominant values of their
surrounding cultures.
In conclusion, the empirical research on parenting and children’s development of shyness mirrors
the tenets of transactional, bidirectional and bioecological theories of development. Integrating the
patterns of findings across studies, a developmental model of the socialization of shyness can be
constructed. At least within Western cultures, it begins early in life, as emotionally-reactive, distress-
prone or temperamentally inhibited infants and toddlers elicit maladaptive socialization responses
from their parents, reflected in such aspects of psychological control as intrusive over-control,
egregious physical affection, or derision, criticism and rejection. Parents seem particularly prone to
such responses if they themselves experience heightened anxiety or emotional distress. In parallel,
temperamentally vulnerable or emotionally dysregulated infants and toddlers are most sensitive to
the adverse effects of poor parenting, because their relatively poor self-regulatory capacities leave
them more dependent upon external sources of support, specifically parenting.
The interplay of young children’s high neediness and parents’ inappropriate caregiving
undermines the development of secure attachment relationships, diminishing the developing
toddlers’ preparedness to cope autonomously with social interactions with peers and non-familial
adults. Encountering other children at daycare, preschool or the playground, these children become
upset and withdraw from interactions. Their parents seek to prevent future distressing events by
staying close to the children and micro-managing their social activities, or even by avoiding such
activities to diminish the children’s contacts with unfamiliar people and situations. However, these
actions rob the children of opportunities to practice and develop their social skills, reinforce the
pattern or avoiding or withdrawing from interactions, and thereby lead to stable patterns of shy
As their shy children move through the elementary school-age years, parents increasingly
perceive their children’s reticent behavior as an immutable and enduring characteristic. They also
become increasingly dissatisfied and impatient with their children’s shyness, as it violates their
culturally-based expectations for children’s normative development of autonomy and independence,
and as their children’s distress also acts as a chronic stress on parents. Overt physical affection
becomes replaced by negativity and authoritarian control, which maintain children’s feelings of
incompetence and insecurity, and thus their shyness and social isolation. Inhibited and withdrawn
children with overprotective parents thereby develop into shy and reticent youth with authoritarian
parents, with isolation, loneliness and depression emerging as likely adverse outcomes of this
unfortunate trajectory.
The empirical evidence for this model is not yet complete, of course, and we have inferred a
series of temporal and causal links that have not been fully documented. Further, in keeping with the
tenets of developmental psychopathology, there are likely to be many points of departure from this
stable pathway toward shyness. Sensitive, supportive and positive parenting can help vulnerable
children to develop social comfort and competence. Accepting peers and close friends, and
nurturing teachers and other adults, might ameliorate some of the influences of maladaptive parental
socialization. The luck of the genetic draw might lead to desirable maturational changes around
puberty that increase acceptance by peers and children’s self-esteem. We would contend, however,
that parental socialization lies at the core of the developing child’s sense of self and ability to engage
competently with others, as well as their receptiveness to positive influences by other socialization
agents. Recognizing the critically central roles of parental socialization and parent-child relationships
for children’s development of shyness and social withdrawal is fundamental for understanding the
challenges faced by shy children. In turn, this knowledge will be vital to efforts to design and
implement effective interventions to help shy children overcome their reticence and attain comfort
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... For example, a child with an inhibited temperament may react anxiously to new and challenging situations and evoke responses such as excessive control or intrusiveness from parents. These parenting behaviors have been linked to reticence and social withdrawal (Hastings et al., 2010). However, this research has been focused mainly on mothers, while the role of fathers has been understudied across development (Cabrera et al., 2018). ...
... This study is focused on fathers, since there is less information (as in other domains) about their impact on children's social and non-social play. A few empirical studies have supported the association between the development of children's shyness and fathers' parenting behaviors (Hastings et al., 2010). For instance, fathers' critical and non-supportive parenting styles were associated with teacher reports of elevated anxiety and isolation in preschool-age children (McShane and Hastings, 2009). ...
... Further studies should consider a person-centered approach, in order to attain more detailed knowledge of how play profiles emerge and to understand its predictors, correlates, and outcomes (Howard and Hoffman, 2017), although based on self-reports, different and independent sources were used, therefore increasing the study validity. Another innovative aspect is the focus on the father's role in the child's social and nonsocial behaviors, since the literature is mostly focused on mothers (e.g., McShane and Hastings, 2009;Hastings et al., 2010), and as Cabrera et al. (2018) stated, fathers are parents too and should be fully integrated both in research and in parenting interventions. Since children who consistently display a low quality of peer interactions may be more susceptible to later social-emotional difficulties (Cheah et al., 2001), having the means to identify these difficulties early on should be a priority in early education. ...
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Using a sample of Portuguese preschool-age children, we aimed to identify different play profiles based on teachers’ descriptions of social and non-social behaviors, as well as characterize them in terms of children’s characteristics (sex and temperament) and fathers’ parenting styles (e.g., warmth and involvement or punitive strategies). The 243 children were distributed across four profiles (identified through a two-stage cluster analysis): Solitary/Reticent, Social Rough, Social, and Social Solitary. A univariate effect was found between play profiles and children’s effortful control, as well as fathers’ punitive strategies. In addition, a significant multivariate interaction was found between child’s sex and the Solitary/Reticent and Social Rough profiles for father’s punitive strategies. In this sample, children with social play profiles seem to use diverse types of behaviors during their interactions with peers and in being adjusted within the group. As children’s early experiences with peers are a central context for healthy development, a better understating of the diversity of play profiles and its predictors is important for early interventions.
... Variance in the maternal report of shyness unique from dysregulated fear may reflect mothers' perceptions of toddler inhibition in other, qualitatively different contexts (e.g., with a new babysitter). It is also possible that variance specific to maternal perceptions of shyness is relevant for parenting behaviors not studied presently or in the context of maternal characteristics outside the scope of the current study (e.g., goals for or beliefs about shyness; Hastings, Nuselovici, Rubin, & Cheah, 2010). ...
... The lack of relation between dysregulated fear and maternal punitive responses can be contextualized by mixed findings in the literature. Inhibited temperament relates to parents' warmth, involvement, and physical affection, but it also relates to harsh parenting (e.g., Rubin, Hastings, Stewart, Henderson, & Chen, 1997; see also Fox et al., 2005;Hastings et al., 2010). We did not investigate interactions in the current study to minimize predictors in models, and exploratory analyses suggested they did not exist. ...
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Parent emotion socialization refers to the process by which parents impart their values and beliefs about emotion expressivity to their children. Parent emotion socialization requires attention as a construct that develops in its own right. The socialization of child worry, in particular, has implications for children’s typical socioemotional development, as well as their maladaptive development towards anxiety outcomes. Existing theories on emotion socialization, anxiety, and parent‐child relationships guided our investigation of both maternal anxiety and toddler inhibited temperament as predictors of change in mothers’ unsupportive (i.e., distress, punitive, and minimizing) responses to toddler worry across 1 year of toddlerhood. Participants included 139 mother‐toddler dyads. Mothers reported on their own anxiety and their emotion socialization responses to toddler worry. We assessed toddler inhibited temperament through a mother‐report survey of shyness and observational coding of dysregulated fear. Maternal anxiety but not child inhibited temperament predicted distress reactions and punitive responses, whereas maternal anxiety and toddler dysregulated fear both uniquely predicted minimizing responses. These results support continued investigation of worry socialization as a developmental outcome of both parent and child characteristics.
... Beyond biological influences on the development of shyness, additional developmental models of shyness highlight the important role of social influences and context (Coplan, Arbeau, & Armer, 2008;Gazelle & Ladd, 2003;Hastings, Nuselovici, Rubin, & Cheah, 2010;Rubin, Bowker, & Gazelle, 2010;Schmidt et al., 2005;Stevenson-Hinde, 2002). Previous work has shown that those born prematurely are more prone to be the recipient of overprotective parenting (e.g., Indredavik, Vik, Heyerdahl, Romundstad, & Brubakk, 2005;Jaekel, Wolke, & Chernova, 2012;Wightman et al. 2007), victims of bullying, peer victimization, and social exclusion (see Day, Van Lieshout, Vaillancourt, & Schmidt, 2015, for a recent review), and have lower social competence and social skills ( Dahl et al., 2006;Hoy et al., 1992;Ross, Lipper, & Auld, 1990) relative to their typically developing peers. ...
... Previous work has shown that those born prematurely are more prone to be the recipient of overprotective parenting (e.g., Indredavik, Vik, Heyerdahl, Romundstad, & Brubakk, 2005;Jaekel, Wolke, & Chernova, 2012;Wightman et al. 2007), victims of bullying, peer victimization, and social exclusion (see Day, Van Lieshout, Vaillancourt, & Schmidt, 2015, for a recent review), and have lower social competence and social skills ( Dahl et al., 2006;Hoy et al., 1992;Ross, Lipper, & Auld, 1990) relative to their typically developing peers. These are key social influences that play a role in later developing or increasing patterns of shyness (Booth-LaForce & Oxford, 2008;Hastings et al., 2010;Karevold, Ystrom, Coplan, Sanson, & Mathiesen, 2012;Oh et al., 2008;Poole, Tang, et al., 2018;Rubin et al., 2010, Tang et al., 2017). These social factors may be particularly influential during adolescence as this coincides with the onset of puberty, increases in sociocognitive development, and an increased reliance on peers and need for social acceptance (Cheek, Carpentieri, Smith, Rierdran, & Koff, 1986). ...
Although shyness is a ubiquitous phenomenon with early developmental origins, little research has examined the influence of prenatal exposures on the developmental trajectory of shyness. Here, we examined trajectories of shyness from childhood to adulthood in three groups ( N = 254), with varying degrees of prenatal adversity as indicated by the number of stressful exposures: extremely low birth weight (ELBW; <1000 g) survivors prenatally exposed to exogenous corticosteroids (ELBW+S, n = 56); ELBW survivors not prenatally exposed to exogenous corticosteroids (ELBW+NS, n = 56); and normal birth weight (NBW, n = 142) controls. Multilevel modeling revealed that the ELBW+S individuals exhibited the highest levels of childhood shyness, which remained stable into adulthood. The ELBW+NS and NBW controls had comparably low levels of childhood shyness; however, the ELBW+NS individuals experienced patterns of increasing shyness, while NBW controls displayed decreases in shyness into adulthood. We speculate that individuals exposed to multiple prenatal stressors (i.e., ELBW+S) may be developmentally programmed to be more sensitive to detecting social threat, with one manifestation being early developing, stable shyness, while increasing shyness among ELBW+NS individuals may reflect a later developing shyness influenced by postnatal context. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding the developmental origins and developmental course of human shyness from childhood through adulthood.
... Third, psychological control may deprive children of opportunities to creatively problem solve and cope with challenges. Children who experience such control tend to show introversion, withdrawal, and cowardice, which may prevent them from developing the interpersonal skills necessary to properly resolve peer conflict (Hastings et al., 2010). If adolescents are neither gregarious nor able to defend themselves at school, they are more likely to become a target of bullying. ...
... Third, psychological control may deprive children of opportunities to creatively problem solve and cope with challenges. Children who experience such control tend to show introversion, withdrawal, and cowardice, which may prevent them from developing the interpersonal skills necessary to properly resolve peer conflict (Hastings et al., 2010). If adolescents are neither gregarious nor able to defend themselves at school, they are more likely to become a target of bullying. ...
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The present study was designed to examine the unique associations of parental behavioral control and psychological control with Chinese adolescents’ bullying victimization, as well as the moderating role of teacher support. Using a longitudinal design, two-wave data were obtained from 2,445 junior high school students (Mage = 12.98 years, SD = 0.60, 51.7% boys at baseline) from 47 to 7 classes in central China over 6 months. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was used to examine the predictive effects of within-class and between-class predictors on bullying victimization. The results showed that: (1) parental control significantly predicted bullying victimization, with psychological control playing a significant positive role and behavioral control playing a significant negative role; (2) teacher support significantly negatively predicted bullying victimization; and (3) teacher support significantly moderated the effect of parental psychological control on bullying victimization, with a relatively stronger effect in low teacher support classes than in high teacher support classes, which indicated high teacher support could alleviate the harmful effect of parental psychological control, and low teacher support would greatly exacerbate the harmful effect contrarily; however, teacher support did not moderate the association between parental behavioral control and bullying victimization, implying that parental behavioral control has a consistent impact on bullying victims regardless of the level of teacher support. The educational implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.
... For example, a study identified that early insecure parent-child attachment is related to children's shyness throughout primary school years (Booth-LaForce & Oxford, 2008). A literature review suggests that parent-child relationships influence children's shyness (Hastings et al., 2010). ...
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This study examined the mediating role of shyness (i.e., as a risk factor) and the moderating role of resilience (i.e., as a protective factor) between parental-child attachment and teacher-student relationships in Chinese children living in poverty. A total of 235 children was screened from 898 children as a sample of impoverished children by family economic status. Participants completed parent-child attachment, teacher-student relationships, shyness, and resilience measures. Results suggested that shyness partially mediated parent-child attachment and teacher-student relationships. Parent-child attachment was negatively related to shyness, which negatively related to teacher-student relationships. Moreover, resilience moderated the association between shyness and teacher-student relationships, with more substantial effects in the low-resilience group than the high-resilience group. Accordingly, parental attachment may play an important role in influencing teacher-student relationships for impoverished children. Increasing resilience in children in poverty may help buffer the adverse effects of shyness on teacher-student relationships.
... Authoritarian style parents tend to be demanding and nonresponsive to their child's needs (Baumrind, 1978;Maccoby & Martin, 1983). This parenting style has been associated with various negative child outcomes including low self-esteem, shyness, and difficulty reading social situations (Hastings et al., 2010;Jadon & Tripathi, 2017;Kazemi et al., 2010). The Permissive parenting style is characterized by high parental warmth and low control. ...
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The tendency to conceal personal information from others that an individual perceives as negative or distressing (i.e., self-concealment). The tendency to “keep secrets” has been associated with negative health and emotional outcomes. While parent behaviors have shown to influence the development of self-concealment among children and adolescents, less is known about self-concealment among college-age adults where parental influences are less direct. This study examined perceptions of parenting style and parental relationship quality on the tendency to self-conceal in a sample of 772 college students. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were computed to analyze the sequential effects of parenting variables (relationship quality and parenting style) on self-concealment. Overall, higher levels of self-concealment in males were found. Effects of perceived parenting style on self-concealment showed differential effects by gender. Among male students, more favorable relationship quality with the father was linked to lower levels of self-concealment while a more Permissive maternal parenting style was associated with greater self-concealment. In females, both father and mother relationship quality were inversely related to self-concealment (more positive relationship quality, less self-concealment). Greater paternal Authoritative parenting style and lower maternal Authoritarian parenting style were associated with lower levels of self-concealment among female students. Findings suggest that perceived parenting behaviors may continue to influence important behavioral tendencies (in this study self-concealment) into emerging adulthood.
... Intrusive, controlling, and overprotective parenting styles have been particularly linked to children's propensity for shyness and related constructs (Hastings, Nuselovici, Rubin, & Cheah, 2010;Rubin et al., 2009). Children of mothers who are overly intrusive and protective may not develop necessary coping and problem-solving strategies and thus maintain high level of shyness (Rubin et al., 2009). ...
This study used latent growth curve modeling to identify normative development and individual differences in the developmental patterns of shyness and anger/frustration across childhood. This study also examined the impacts of maternal intrusiveness and frontal electroencephalogram (EEG) asymmetry at age 4 on the developmental patterns of shyness and anger/frustration. 180 children (92 boys, 88 girls; Mage = 4.07 years at baseline; 75.6% White, 18.3% Black, 6.1% multiracial/other) participated in the study. Normative development included significant linear decreases in shyness and anger/frustration. Individual variation existed in the developmental patterns. Children with left frontal EEG asymmetry showed a faster decreasing pattern of shyness. Children who experienced higher maternal intrusiveness and had left frontal EEG asymmetry showed a slower decreasing pattern of anger/frustration.
... However, maternal shyness may also influence parental socialization (Rickman & Davidson, 1994) that influences children through observational learning (Clément & Dukes, 2017;Olsson & Phelps, 2007). Likewise, mothers high in shyness may reinforce children's shy or wary behaviors (Hastings, Nuselovici, Rubin, Cheah, 2010;Root, Hastings, & Rubin, 2016); provide negative information about social situations (Muris, van Zwol, Huijding, & Mayer, 2010), and/or provide limited opportunities to their children to socialize (Bögels et al., 2001;Rickman & Davidson, 1994). Few studies examine longitudinal relations between maternal shyness in early childhood and social anxiety in adolescence. ...
Background: Social anxiety is amongst the most prevalent adolescent mental health problems; however, it is often unrecognized due to its comorbidity with other anxiety problems such as generalized anxiety. Thus, understanding the unique developmental pathways to social anxiety is critical for improving its prevention. We examined the pathway from maternal shyness, when children were 4 years old, to adolescents' social anxiety at age 15 through social wariness at age 7. We hypothesized that childhood social wariness would mediate the association between maternal shyness and social anxiety in adolescence. Methods: Participants (N = 291; 54% female) were followed from early childhood to adolescence. Mothers reported on their own shyness when children were 4 years old. Social wariness toward unfamiliar peers was observed in the laboratory at ages 4 and 7. Adolescent social anxiety and generalized anxiety were assessed via self-report, parent-report, and clinical diagnoses at age 15. Results: Maternal shyness was positively associated with adolescent social anxiety but not generalized anxiety at age 15. Higher levels of maternal shyness at age 4 predicted greater social wariness at age 7, which in turn predicted greater social anxiety but not generalized anxiety at age 15. Social wariness at age 7 partially mediated the association between maternal shyness and adolescent social anxiety. Conclusions: This study identifies a unique developmental pathway from maternal shyness to adolescent social anxiety. Findings suggest that childhood social wariness connects maternal shyness to adolescent social anxiety.
Objective: Hikikomori, from the Japanese words 'hiku' (to pull) and 'komoru' (to withdraw), is a clinical condition in which a subject locks himself/herself into his/her own house for more than 6 months. This condition is becoming relevant in Japan and other Asian countries, with new cases emerging in Europe and a steep increase in its incidence. Methods: In this article, the various psychopathological and diagnostic hypothesis and the different criteria proposed by the various authors have been analysed and compared, paying attention also to the new studies conducted in Europe and to therapeutic perspectives that are opening up for its treatment. Results: Numerous hypothesis have been put forward for the genesis of hikikomori, in particular, the hypothesis of a behaviour seen as a dysfuncion of the family system or as a result of our current modern society. Furthermore, this behaviour has been compared to other conditions such as internet addiction and a specific form of depression called Modern Type Depression (MTD). Conclusions: Hikikomori could represent the clinical answer to a social evolution, similarly to other phenomena such as binge behaviours and use of psychoactive substances. Further studies are needed to clarify diffusion, diagnosticassessment and differential diagnosis. Key points Hikikomori is now considered a contemporary society-bound syndrome linked to modern society changes. Hikikomori might be a coping strategy to avoid relationships, social judgement and possible failures. Hikikomori might represent an extreme suffering that needs to be identified early: it is linked to severe form of modern type depression and it is a risk factor for suicidal behaviours. It is important to inform and sensitise communities about hikikomori to assure early interventions. More clinical studies are needed to define a unitary and specific model of hikikomori and to structure focussed interventions.
In this study, the authors examine temperament (12-13 months) and mothering and fathering (15, 21, 27, 33 months) antecedents of inhibition of children at age 3 years prospectively in a sample of 125 firstborn boys and retrospectively in only the most and least inhibited children. High negativity coupled with low positivity in infancy predicted high inhibition, as did parenting that was supportive (e.g., high sensitivity, low intrusiveness). Parenting appeared more influential in the case of children who were highly negative as infants. The importance of distinguishing positive and negative emotionality in infancy and of studying mothering and fathering are discussed.
Stability and behavioral correlates of peer acceptance were examined from kindergarten through second grade. Study participants were 295 boys and 311 girls from 9 elementary schools. Sociometric protocols and rating scales assessed peers' and teachers' perceptions of likability and social behavior. Social acceptance and peer competence were relatively stable over 2-year periods. Stability of peer-assessed social competence varied as a function of children's gender. Stably rejected children evidenced poorer peer and teacher ratings of social behavior than did other children, whereas transiently rejected children were viewed as moderate in social skill. Changes in behavioral characteristics over the kindergarten to first-grade and first- to second-grade periods distinguished stably rejected, stably accepted, and transiently rejected children.
The fundamental fact of Confucianism is that it is a secular social theory, the purpose of which is to achieve a harmonious society. This chapter discusses the structural pattern of Chinese attitudes and behavior by analyzing the Confucian paradigm of man. There are different articulations of Confucian theory of society and the individual. Most of the literature depicts Confucianism as a social theory and a social force that tends to mold the Chinese into group-oriented or family-oriented and socially dependent beings. This view has a good deal of sociological truth and has been more or less borne out to date by empirical studies. The Confucian paradigm of man has the theoretical thrust as well as a built-in structural imperative to develop a person into a relation-oriented individual who is not only socially responsive and dependent but is also capable of asserting a self-directed role in constructing a social world. However, this feature of Confucianism has been relatively neglected in theoretical analyses and has been unexplored in empirical research.
This study examines the course of emotion expression development over the first 2 years of life in a sample of full-term and preterm children. 58 mother/infant pairs were videotaped at infant ages of 2½, 5, 7½, and 22 months, recording face-to-face interaction involving play and separation/reunion sessions. The tapes were coded on a second-to-second basis using Izard's facial affect coding system. Data analysis focused on (1) differences in expressive behavior at 22 months as a function of risk status, gender, attachment status, and patterns of earlier maternal contingency behavior; (2) stability of specific emotional expressive patterns across assessment periods; and (3) the relation of expressive behavior and security of attachment at 2 years to qualities of earlier affective interchange. Mother's contingency behavior (both general level and specific contingency patterns) appeared to have a material effect on the course of emotional development, as did birth status and gender. Prematurity was associated with differential socioemotional development well into the second year, much in contrast to the "catch-up effect" observed in linguistic and cognitive functioning. Discrete emotions analysis of attachment groups yielded differentiation along a broad negative/positive dimension, but it also showed that insecurely attached children can be characterized as showing inhibited anger expression. The results of this study are discussed within the framework of organizational models of infant affective development; attachment theory and discrete emotions approaches were found to yield different yet equally informative data on the course of socioemotional development.