Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 9, pp 3008–3018 | Cite as

Children’s Shyness Moderates the Associations between Parenting Behavior and the Development of Children’s Pro-Social Behaviors

  • Maryam Zarra-NezhadEmail author
  • Ali Moazami-Goodarzi
  • Jari-Erik Nurmi
  • Kenneth Eklund
  • Timo Ahonen
  • Kaisa Aunola
Original Paper


Shyness, feelings of uneasiness or hesitation when faced with a novel or unfamiliar social situation, in early childhood has been found to be a risk factor for social difficulties later in life. When combined with fitting parenting, however, outcomes of shyness can be less detrimental. The present study examined the joint effects of children’s shyness and mothers’ and fathers’ parenting on the development of children’s pro-social behaviors during early schooling years. A total of 200 children were rated by their parents on their shyness at age 3 and on their pro-social behaviors at ages 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9. The children’s mothers (n = 185) and fathers (n = 175) completed questionnaires measuring their levels of affection and behavioral control when the children were four years old. The results of the Latent Growth Curve modeling showed that, although maternal and parental affection were related to high levels of pro-social behavior for both shy and non-shy children, shy children, in particular, benefitted from parental affection in terms of their subsequent development of pro-social behaviors. The results further showed that paternal behavioral control was positively associated with pro-social behavioral levels among non-shy children only.


Parenting Affection Behavioral control Shyness Pro-social behaviors 



This study was funded by a grant from Alli Paasikivi foundation and a grant from the Department of Psychology, University of Jyvaskyla for the first author.

Author Contributions

M.Z.N.: Designed the study and wrote major part of the manuscript. A.M.G.: Collaborated with data analyses, writing of the Methods and Results. J.E.N.: Collaborated with the design of the larger registry where data were derived and provided feedback on writing and editing of manuscript. K.E.: Involved in data design. T.A.: Involved in data design and collection of the large data set and provided feedback on writing. K.A.: Collaborated with data design, assisted with data analyses, and provided feedback on writing and editing of manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This study involved human participants and all procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards and guidelines on research ethics given by University of Jyvaskyla, the national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Applied Education Science and Teacher EducationUniversity of Eastern FinlandJoensuuFinland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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