Maternal Predictions and Protective Behaviors: Effects on Child Shyness

Open Access
Drobnick, Jessica Rachel
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Kristin Buss, Thesis Supervisor
  • David A. Rosenbaum, Honors Advisor
  • Maternal Protection
  • Child Anxiety
  • Child Shyness
  • Maternal Predictions
Child fearful and inhibited behaviors have been implicated in the later development of anxiety related problems and research has found that maternal protective behaviors can exacerbate this risk. Mothers who engage in protective behavior often report their children as vulnerable and high in fearful behavior – and these reports are not always accurate. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect that maternal protective behaviors have on the relationship between maternal predictions of child fearfulness and the observation of child shyness in a laboratory setting. I predicted that higher maternal protection would be evident in mildly threatening contexts in the lab when mothers predicted that their child would be fearful during the lab episode compared to less maternal protection when mothers predict low child fear. Further, when mothers predict higher child fear and engage in more protection, there will be more observed child fearful behaviors during the laboratory episode compared to when mothers predict lower child fear and engage in less protective behavior. Results partially support the hypotheses. The study provides further evidence for the important relationship between protective parenting and its impact on fearfulness in children.