Don’t Fret, Be Supportive! Maternal Characteristics Linking Child Shyness to Psychosocial and School Adjustment in Kindergarten

Abstract

The goal of this study was to explore the moderating role of maternal personality and parenting characteristics in the links between shyness and adjustment in kindergarten. Participants were 197 children enrolled in kindergarten programs (and their mothers and teachers). Multisource assessment was employed, including maternal ratings, behavioral observations, teacher ratings, and individual child interviews. Results indicated that shyness was associated with a wide range of socio-emotional and school adjustment difficulties in kindergarten. Moreover, support for the moderating role of parenting was also found. Relations between shyness and certain indices of maladjustment were stronger among children with mothers characterized by higher neuroticism, BIS sensitivity, and an overprotective parenting style, and weaker for mothers characterized by high agreeableness and an authoritative parenting style.

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Acknowledgement

This research was supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant to author Coplan. The authors wish to thank Madelena Arnone, Belinda Boekhoven, Leanna Closson, Brooke Fletcher, Sherri Frohlick, Allison Graham, and Deborah McEwen for their help in the collection and coding of data.

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Correspondence to Robert J. Coplan.

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Coplan, R.J., Arbeau, K.A. & Armer, M. Don’t Fret, Be Supportive! Maternal Characteristics Linking Child Shyness to Psychosocial and School Adjustment in Kindergarten. J Abnorm Child Psychol 36, 359–371 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-007-9183-7

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Keywords

  • Shyness
  • Parenting
  • Personality
  • Internalizing problems