Childhood shyness may lead to teen anxiety

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SHAFAQNA – Emotional and behavioral problems such as shyness during early childhood may lead to a teenage anxiety disorder, a new research has found.

A longitudinal study revealed that the quality of parent-infant relationship could play a vital role in the appearance of social anxiety in adolescence.

The study was carried out by the researchers at the US University of Maryland in collaboration with researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and the Canadian University of Waterloo.

The research team analyzed the behavior of 165 European-American, middle- to upper-middle-class adolescents aged 14-17 years.

The participants were recruited when they were infants, at four months, according to the report which appeared in Child Development, the journal of the Society for Research in Child Development.

The investigators observed the infants at the age of 14 months, with their parents in the laboratory, to monitor the babies’ response to brief separations from their parents.

“Securely attached infants initiated contact with their parents after separation and, if they had been upset, they could calm down when their parents returned,” the observation showed.

The study also found that two patterns were seen in insecurely attached children. Some of them refused to have contact with their parents after being separated while the others needed to have physical contact with their parents but were angry and unable to calm down when their parents returned.

The investigators at the latest stage of their research, when the children were 14 to 17 years old, asked participants and their parents to complete questionnaires about the adolescents’ anxiety.

The results indicated that children who were insecurely attached to their parents and who were inhibited throughout their childhoods showed higher levels of anxiety as adolescents, specifically social anxiety.

“Our study suggests that it is the combination of both early risk factors that predicts anxiety in adolescence, particularly social anxiety,” said Erin Lewis-Morrarty, research associate at the University of Maryland.

 

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