Familial correlates of social anxiety in children and adolescents

Behav Res Ther. 2001 Mar;39(3):273-87. doi: 10.1016/s0005-7967(00)00005-x.


Retrospective studies suggest a relationship between parental rearing practices and social phobia. The present study investigated whether socially anxious children perceive their current parental rearing as rejecting, overprotective, and lacking emotional warmth, and as emphasizing the importance of other's opinion, and de-emphasizing social initiatives and family sociability. Furthermore, we examined whether parents of socially anxious children report to rely on such rearing practices, and suffer themselves from social fears. A regression analysis as well as extreme group comparisons were applied. Little support was found for the presumed role of the assessed family rearing aspects in the development of social anxiety in children. Solely family sociability (children's and mothers' report) and children's perception of overprotection of the mother predicted social anxiety in the regression analysis. Given the influence of the mentioned rearing practices, social anxiety of the mother still significantly predicted social anxiety of the child. In the extreme group comparisons, differences in the expected direction were found between socially anxious and normal children on parental rejection, emotional warmth, and family sociability. However, the lack of differences between socially anxious and clinical control children suggests that these variables do not form a specific pathway to social fears.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development
  • Phobic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk Factors