Children showing signs of social withdrawal in risk of internalized distress

June 12, 2014

Children are showing signs of social withdrawal are more susceptible to parental influences than others. These children were also more prone to distress caused by the impacts of guilt-inducing parenting.

The researchers of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, have found that children showing signs of social withdrawal are more susceptible to parental influences than others. The researchers followed up about 300 children across the first three years of and monitored the children's social skills and . At the same time, mothers' and fathers' were assessed. The study was funded by the Academy of Finland and the Alli Paasikivi foundation.

The results showed that children showing signs of social withdrawal in kindergarten were more prone to parental impacts later on in school than others. For example, a low level of maternal affection was evident as an increased level of conduct problems among socially withdrawn children in particular. These children were also more prone to the impacts of guilt-inducing parenting deployed by mothers and fathers: guilt-inducing parenting of either parent increased internalized distress and depressive symptoms clearly more among socially withdrawn children than among other children.

On the other hand, the results surprisingly showed that guilt-inducing parenting deployed by mothers decreased the of socially withdrawn children. The researchers suggest that children showing signs of may have a heightened risk of pleasing their parents at the cost of their own well-being.

In guilt-inducing parenting, a parent tries to impact on the child's behavior using psychological means rather than direct limit setting. For example, the parent may remind the child how much effort he/she makes for the child or show how ashamed he/she is because of the child's behavior. In previous research, this kind of parenting has been related to increased anxiety and among children and adolescents.

The study will be published (online version already available) in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Explore further: The parenthood paradox: Certain parenting beliefs are detrimental to mothers' mental health

More information: Zarra-Nezhad, M., Kiuru, N., Aunola, K., Zarra-Nezhad, M., Ahonen, T., Poikkeus, A.-M., Lerkkanen M.-K., & Nurmi, J.-E. (2014). Social withdrawal in children moderates the association between parenting styles and the children's own socioemotional development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Online: 2014, May 5.

Related Stories

Parent induces guilt, child shows distress

March 23, 2013

The use of guilt-inducing parenting in daily parent-child interaction causes children distress still evident on the next day, emerges from the study Parents, teachers, and children's learning (LIGHT) carried out by Kaisa ...

Why parenting can never have a rule book

September 3, 2013

Any parent will tell you that there is no simple recipe for raising a child. Being a parent means getting hefty doses of advice – often unsolicited – from others. But such advice often fails to consider a critical factor: ...

Recommended for you

Serious research into what makes us laugh

November 24, 2015

More complex jokes tend to be funnier but only up to a point, Oxford researchers have found. Jokes that are too complicated tend to lose the audience.

Psychologists dispute continuum theory of sexual orientation

November 19, 2015

Washington State University researchers have established a categorical distinction between people who are heterosexual and those who are not. By analyzing the reported sexual behavior, identity and attraction of more than ...

Babies have logical reasoning before age one, study finds

November 18, 2015

Human infants are capable of deductive problem solving as early as 10 months of age, a new study by psychologists at Emory University and Bucknell finds. The journal Developmental Science is publishing the research, showing ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.