Infant and Child Development

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Volume 23 Issue 3 (May/June 2014), Pages i-ii, 217-352

Do Maternal Warm and Encouraging Statements Reduce Shy Toddlers' Social Reticence? (pages 295-303)

Early and persistent shyness is associated with increased risk for social anxiety and other poor social outcomes. Although numerous intervention efforts have been directed at reducing this risk by modifying shy or inhibited children's social behaviours toward peers, few have utilized parents despite their particular influence on young children's social interactions, and none have targeted children younger than preschool age. We evaluated the influence of two maternal parenting behaviours, verbal expressions of warmth and verbal encouragement of play, on shy toddlers' social behaviours with unfamiliar peers. We found that the encouragement statements, but not the warm statements, reduced social reticence in shy children. These findings suggest that maternal behaviours that encourage peer social play have the potential to teach shy toddlers to approach instead of avoid social novelty and merit further study. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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