- Parenting and social anxiety: fathers’ versus mothers’ influence on their children’s anxiety in ambiguous social situations
- Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
- Volume | Issue number
- 52 | 5
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
Background: The role of parenting in child social anxiety was examined in an information processing experiment. We tested the relative weight that children in general, and high versus low socially anxious children in particular, put on fathers’ versus mothers’ signal about whether a social situation is safe or a threat.
Method: Children aged 8-12 (n = 144) varying in social anxiety were presented scripts of ambiguous social situations in which either the father or the mother acted anxious or confident. Children indicated how anxious or confident they would be.
Results: Fathers’ behaviour influenced high socially anxious children’s confidence or anxiety more than mothers’ behaviour. In contrast, in normal and low socially anxious children, mothers’ behaviour was more influential than fathers’.
Conclusions: Mothers might have the role of teaching social wariness to their low socially anxious children, whereas fathers may teach social confidence to socially anxious children.
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