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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
We’re sorry, something doesn't seem to be working properly.
Please try refreshing the page. If that doesn't work, please contact support so we can address the problem.
Aunola, K., & Nurmi, J.-E. (2004). Maternal affection moderates the impact of psychological control on a child’s mathematical performance. Developmental Psychology, 40, 965–978. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1622.214.171.1245.
Baer, J., Schreck, M., Althoff, R. R., Rettew, D., Harder, V., Ayer, L., & Hudziak, J. J. (2015). Child temperament, maternal parenting behavior, and child social functioning. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 1152–1162. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-014-9924-5.
Barstead, M. G., Smith, K. A., Laursen, B., Booth‐LaForce, C., King, S., & Rubin, K. H. (2017). Shyness, preference for solitude, and adolescent internalizing: the roles of maternal, paternal, and best‐friend support. Journal of Research on Adolescence. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12350.
Belsky, J., & Pluess, M. (2009). Beyond diathesis stress: differential susceptibility to environmental influences. Psychological Bulletin, 135, 885–908. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0017376.
Blandon, A. Y., Calkins, S. D., & Keane, S. P. (2010). Predicting emotional and social competence during early childhood from toddler risk and maternal behavior. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 119–132. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579409990307.
Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss: retrospect and prospect. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 52(4), 664–678. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-0025.1982.tb01456.
Bollen, K. A., & Curran, P. J. (2006). Latent curve models: a structural equation perspective (Vol. 467). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Booth-Laforce, C., & Oxford, M. L. (2008). Trajectories of social withdrawal from grades 1 to 6: prediction from early parenting, attachment, and temperament. Developmental Psychology, 44, 1298–1313. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0012954.
Booth, C. L. (1994). Predicting social adjustment in middle childhood: the role of preschool attachment security and maternal style. Social Development, 3, 189–204. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.1994.tb00040.x.
Cabrera, N. J., Volling, B. L., & Barr, R. (2018). Fathers are parents, too! Widening the lens on parenting for children’s development. Child Development Perspectives. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12275.
Cheek, J. M., & Krasnoperova, E. N. (1999). Varieties of shyness in adolescence and adulthood. In L. A. Schmidt & J. Schulkin (Eds.), Extreme fear, shyness, and social phobia: origins, biological mechanisms, and clinical outcomes (pp. 224–250). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Chen, X., Liu, M., & Li, D. (2000). Parental warmth, control, and indulgence and their relations to adjustment in Chinese children: a longitudinal study. Journal of Family Psychology, 14, 401–419. https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3126.96.36.1991.
Coplan, R. J., DeBow, A., Schneider, B. H., & Graham, A. A. (2009). The social behaviors of extremely inhibited children in and out of preschool. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27, 891–905. https://doi.org/10.1348/026151008X396153.
Coplan, R. J., Prakash, K., O’Neil, K., & Armer, M. (2004). Do you ‘want’ to play? Distinguishing between conflicted-shyness and social disinterest in early childhood. Developmental Psychology, 40, 244–258. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-16188.8.131.52.
Daniel, E., Madigan, S., & Jenkins, J. (2016). Paternal and maternal warmth and the development of prosociality among preschoolers. Journal of Family Psychology, 30, 114–124. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000120.
Davidov, M., & Grusec, J. E. (2006). Untangling the links of parental responsiveness to distress and warmth to child outcomes. Child Development, 77, 44–58. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00855.x.
Day, R. D., & Padilla-Walker, L. M. (2009). Mother and father connectedness and involvement during early adolescence. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 900–904. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0016438.
Degnan, K. A., Henderson, H. A., Fox, N. A., & Rubin, K. H. (2008). Predicting social wariness in middle childhood: the moderating roles of childcare history, maternal personality and maternal behavior. Social Development, 17, 471–487. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2007.00437.x.
Dyson, M. W., Klein, D. N., Olino, T. M., Dougherty, L. R., & Durbin, C. E. (2011). Social and non-social behavioral inhibition in preschool-age children: differential associations with parent-reports of temperament and anxiety. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 42, 390–405. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-011-0225-6.
Eggum, N. D., Eisenberg, N., Reiser, M., Spinrad, T. L., Valiente, C., Sallquist, J., & Liew, J. (2012). Relations over time among children’s shyness, emotionality, and internalizing problems. Social Development, 21(1), 109–129. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2011.00618.x.
Eisenberg, N. & Fabes, R. A. (1998). Pro-social development. In W. Damon (Series Ed.) & N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: vol. 3. Social, emotional and personality development (5th edn.). New York, NY: Wiley.
Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., & Knafo-Noam, A. (2015). Prosocial development. In M. E. Lamb & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science: socioemotional processes (pp. 610–656). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Fang, H., & Gagne, J. R. (2017). Young children’s behavioral inhibition mediates the association between maternal negative affectivity and internalizing problems: observations, parent-report, and moderation of associations by age. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 42, 284–293. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025417690261.
Fagan, J., Day, R., Lamb, M. E., & Cabrera, N. J. (2014). Should researchers conceptualize differently the dimensions of parenting for fathers and mothers? Journal of Family Theory & Review, 6, 390–405. https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12044.
Farrant, B. M., Devine, T. A., Maybery, M. T., & Fletcher, J. (2012). Empathy, perspective taking and prosocial behaviour: the importance of parenting practices. Infant and Child Development, 21, 175–188. https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.740.
Feng, X., Shaw, D. S., Kovacs, M., Lane, T., O’Rourke, F. E., & Alarcon, J. H. (2008). Emotion regulation in preschoolers: the roles of behavioral inhibition, maternal affective behavior, and maternal depression. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(2), 132–141. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01828.x.
Gallagher, K. C. (2002). Does child temperament moderate the influence of parenting on adjustment? Developmental Review, 22, 623–643. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0273-2297(02)00503-8.
Gazelle, H., & Ladd, G. W. (2003). Anxious solitude and peer exclusion: a diathesis-stress model of internalizing trajectories in childhood. Child Development, 74, 257–278. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00534.
Gazelle, H., & Rudolph, K. D. (2004). Moving toward and away from the world: social approach and avoidance trajectories in anxious solitary youth. Child Development, 75, 829–849. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00709.x.
Hane, A. A., Cheah, C., Rubin, K. H., & Fox, N. A. (2008). The role of maternal behavior in the relation between shyness and social reticence in early childhood and social withdrawal in middle childhood. Social Development, 17, 795–811. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2008.00481.x.
Hart, C. H., Newell, L. D., & Olsen, S. F. (2003). Parenting skills and social-communicative competence in childhood. In J. O. Greene & B. R. Burleson (Eds.), Handbook of communication and social interaction skills (pp. 753–797). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Hastings, P. D., Miller, J. G., & Troxel, N. R. (2015). Making good: the socialization of children’s prosocial development. In J. E. Grusec & P. D. Hastings (Eds.), Handbook of socialization. 2nd edn. (pp. 637–660). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Hastings, P. D., Rubin, K. H., & DeRose, L. (2005). Links among gender, inhibition, and parental socialization in the development of Pro-social behavior. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 51, 467–493. https://doi.org/10.1353/mpq.2005.0023.
Hay, D. F., & Pawlby, S. (2003). Pro-social development in relation to children’s and mothers’ psychological problems. Child Development, 74, 1314–1327. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00609.
Hoffman, M. L. (1970). Moral development. In P. H. Mussen (Ed.), Carmichael’s manual of child development (Vol. 2, pp. 261–359). New York, NY: Wiley.
Huntsinger, C. S., & Jose, P. E. (2009). Relations among parental acceptance and control and children’s social adjustment in Chinese American and European American families. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 321–330. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015812.
Isley, S. L., O’Neil, R., Clatfelter, D., & Parke, R. D. (1999). Parent and child expressed affect and children’s social competence: modeling direct and indirect pathways. Developmental Psychology, 35, 547–560. https://doi.org/10.1037//0012-16184.108.40.2067.
Janson, H., & Mathiesen, K. S. (2008). Temperament profiles from infancy to middle childhood: development and associations with behavior problems. Developmental Psychology, 44, 1314–1328. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0012713.
Kestenbaum, R., Farber, E. A., & Sroufe, L. A. (1989). Individual differences in empathy among preschoolers: relation to attachment history. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 1989(44), 51–64. https://doi.org/10.1002/cd.23219894405.
Kienbaum, J., Volland, C., & Ulich, D. (2001). Sympathy in the context of mother-child and teacher-child relationships. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 25, 302–309. https://doi.org/10.1080/01650250143000076.
Knafo, A., & Plomin, R. (2006). Parental discipline and affection and children’s prosocial behavior: genetic and environmental links. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 147–164. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.11.
Kochanska, G. (1997). Multiple pathways to conscience for children with different temperaments: from toddlerhood to age five. Developmental Psychology, 33, 228–240. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1618.104.22.168.
Lamb, M. E., & Lewis, C. (2010). The development and significance of father-child relationships in two parent families. In M. E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development. 5th edn. (pp. 94–153). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Lane, J. D., & Song, J. (2015). Behavioral inhibition and social withdrawal across cultures. In J. D. Wright (Ed.), International encyclopedia of social and behavioral sciences. 2nd edn. (pp. 456–462). Oxford: Elsevier Science Ltd.
Lansford, J. E., Criss, M. M., Laird, R. D., Shaw, D. S., Pettit, G. S., Bates, J. E., & Dodge, K. A. (2011). Reciprocal relations between parents’ physical discipline and children’s externalizing behavior during middle childhood and adolescence. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 225–238. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579410000751.
Lewis-Morrarty, E., Degnan, K. A., Chronis-Tuscano, A., Rubin, K. H., Cheah, C. S., Pine, D. S., & Fox, N. A. (2012). Maternal over-control moderates the association between early childhood behavioral inhibition and adolescent social anxiety symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 40, 1363–1373. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-012-9663-2.
Li, Y., Liu, L., Lv, Y., Xu, L., Wang, Y., & Huntsinger, C. S. (2015). Mother–child and teacher–child relationships and their influences on Chinese only and non-only children’s early social behaviors: the moderator role of urban–rural status. Children and Youth Services Review, 51, 108–116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.01.023.
Liew, J., Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., Eggum, N. D., Haugen, R. G., & Kupfer, A.. et al. (2011). Physiological regulation and fearfulness as predictors of young children’s empathy-related reactions. Journal of Social Development, 20, 111–134. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2010.00575.x.
Lonigan, C. J., Phillips, B. M., & Hooe, E. S. (2003). Relations of positive and negative affectivity to anxiety and depression in children: evidence from a latent variable longitudinal study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 465–481. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.71.3.465.
Lyytinen, H., & Ahonen, T. (2008). The Jyväskylä longitudinal study of dyslexia. Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä.
Marsiglio, W., Amato, P., Day, R., & Lamb., M. E. (2000). Scholarship on fatherhood in the 1990s and beyond. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1173–1191. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.01173.x.
Nigg, J. T. (2006). Temperament and developmental psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 395–422. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2006.01612.x.
Parke, R. D. (2002). Fathers and families. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting: vol. 3. Being and becoming a parent. 2nd edn. (pp. 27–73). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Pluess, M., & Belsky, J. (2013). Vantage sensitivity: Individual differences in response to positive experiences. Psychological Bulletin, 139, 901–916. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0030196.
Rapee, R. M., & Coplan, R. J. (2010). Conceptual relations between anxiety disorder and fearful temperament. In H. Gazelle & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), Social anxiety in childhood: bridging developmental and clinical perspectives (pp. 17–32). San Francisco, CA: Wiley.
Reynolds, C. R., & Kamphaus, R. W. (1992). Manual for the BASC: behavior assessment system for children. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.
Roberts, G. C., Block, H., & Block, J. (1984). Continuity and change in parents’ child-rearing practices. Child Development, 55, 586–597. https://doi.org/10.2307/1129970.
Rothbart, M. K., Ahadi, S. A., Hershey, K. L., & Fisher, P. (2001). Investigations of temperament at three toseven years: The Children's Behavior Questionnaire. Child Development, 72, 1394–1408. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00355.
Rubin, K. H., Hastings, P. D., Stewart, S. L., Henderson, H. A., & Chen, X. (1997). The consistency andconcomitants of inhibition: Some of the children, all of the time. Child Development, 68, 467–483. https://doi.org/10.2307/1131672.
Rubin, K. H., Burgess, K. B., & Hastings, P. D. (2002). Stability and social-behavioral consequences of toddlers’ inhibited temperament and parenting behaviors. Child Development, 73, 483–495. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00419.
Rubin, K. H., & Coplan, R. J. (2010). The development of shyness and social withdrawal. New York, NY: Guilford.
Rubin, K. H., Coplan, R. J., & Bowker, J. C. (2009). Social withdrawal in childhood. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 141–171. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163642.
Rubin, K. H., Coplan, R. J., Bowker, J. C., & Menzer, M. (2011). Shyness and social withdrawal. In P. K. Smith & C. Hart (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of childhood social development. 2nd edn (pp. 434–452). New York, NY: Wiley-Blackwell.
Russell, A., & Russell, G. (1996). Positive parenting and boys’ and girls’ misbehavior during a home observation. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 19, 291–307. https://doi.org/10.1080/016502596385794.
Russell, A., Hart, C. H., Robinson, C. C., & Olsen, S. F. (2003). Children’s sociable and aggressive behavior with peers: a comparison of the US and Australia, and contributions of temperament and parenting styles. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 27, 74–86. https://doi.org/10.1080/01650250244000038.
Siu, A. M., Shek, D. T., & Law, B. (2012). Prosocial norms as a positive youth development construct: a conceptual review. The Scientific World Journal. https://doi.org/10.1100/2012/832026.
Stevenson, M., & Crnic, K. (2013). Intrusive fathering, children’s self‐regulation and social skills: a mediation analysis. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 57, 500–512. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01549.x.
Suchman, N. E., Rounsaville, B., DeCoste, C., & Luthar, S. (2007). Parental control, parental warmth, and psychosocial adjustment in a sample of substance-abusing mothers and their school-aged and adolescent children. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 32(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2006.07.002.
Tang, A., & Van Lieshout, R. J., Lahat, A., Duku, E., Boyle, M. H., Saigal, S., & Schmidt, L. A. (2017). Shyness trajectories across the first four decades predict mental health outcomes. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 45, 1621–1633. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-017-0265-x.
Thomas, A., & Chess, S., (1977). Temperament and development. New York: Brunner/Mazel.
Vreeke, L. J., Muris, P., Mayer, B., Huijding, J., & Rapee, R. M. (2013). Skittish, shielded, and scared: relations among behavioral inhibition, overprotective parenting, and anxiety in native and non-native Dutch preschool children. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 27, 703–710. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2013.09.006.
Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M. (2007). Helping and cooperation at 14 months of age. Infancy, 11, 271–294. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7078.2007.tb00227.x.
Zarra-Nezhad, M., Kiuru, N., Aunola, K., Zarra-Nezhad, M., Ahonen, T., Poikkeus, A.-M., Lerkkanen, M.-K., & Nurmi, J.-E. (2014). Social withdrawal in children moderates the association between parenting styles and the children’s own socioemotional development. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 55, 1260–1269. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12251.
Zarra-Nezhad, M., Aunola, K., Kiuru, N., Mullola, S., & Moazami-Goodarzi, A. (2015). Parenting styles and children’s emotional development during the first grade: the moderating role of child temperament. Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy, 5, 206 https://doi.org/10.4172/2161-0487.1000206.
Zarra-Nezhad, M. (2016). The joint effects of parenting styles and the child's temperamental characteristicsin children's social-emotional development. Doctoral dissertation, University of Jyväskylädatabase.
Zhou, Q., Eisenberg, N., Losoya, S. H., Fabes, R. A., Reiser, M., Guthrie, I. K., & Shepard, S. A. (2002). The relations of parental warmth and positive expressiveness to children’s empathy‐related responding and social functioning: a longitudinal study. Child Development, 73(3), 893–915. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00446.
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.
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.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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.
Jari-Erik Nurmi is deceased.
About this article
Cite this article
Zarra-Nezhad, M., Moazami-Goodarzi, A., Nurmi, JE. et al. Children’s Shyness Moderates the Associations between Parenting Behavior and the Development of Children’s Pro-Social Behaviors. J Child Fam Stud 27, 3008–3018 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1134-0
- Behavioral control
- Pro-social behaviors