Impact of behavioral inhibition and parenting style on internalizing and externalizing problems from early childhood through adolescence

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2009 Nov;37(8):1063-75. doi: 10.1007/s10802-009-9331-3.


Behavioral inhibition (BI) is characterized by a pattern of extreme social reticence, risk for internalizing behavior problems, and possible protection against externalizing behavior problems. Parenting style may also contribute to these associations between BI and behavior problems (BP). A sample of 113 children was assessed for BI in the laboratory at 14 and 24 months of age, self-report of maternal parenting style at 7 years of age, and maternal report of child internalizing and externalizing BP at 4, 7, and 15 years. Internalizing problems at age 4 were greatest among behaviorally inhibited children who also were exposed to permissive parenting. Furthermore, greater authoritative parenting was associated with less of an increase in internalizing behavior problems over time and greater authoritarian parenting was associated with a steeper decline in externalizing problems. Results highlight the importance of considering child and environmental factors in longitudinal patterns of BP across childhood and adolescence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Authoritarianism
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Internal-External Control
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Permissiveness
  • Personality Assessment
  • Shyness*
  • Social Environment
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Temperament