Maternal protective responses to temperamentally fearful toddlers have previously been found to relate to increased risk for children's development of anxiety-spectrum problems. Not all protective behavior is 'overprotective', and not all mothers respond to toddlers' fear with protection. Therefore, the current study aimed to identify conditions under which an association between fearful temperament and protective maternal behavior occurs. Participants included 117 toddlers and their mothers who were observed in a variety of laboratory tasks. Mothers predicted their toddlers' fear reactions in these tasks and reported the importance of parent-centered goals for their children's shyness. Protective behavior displayed in low-threat, but not high-threat, contexts related to concurrently observed fearful temperament and to mother-reported shy/inhibited behavior 1 year later. The relation between fearful temperament and protective behavior in low-threat, but not high-threat, contexts was strengthened by maternal accuracy in anticipating children's fear and maternal parent-centered goals for children's shyness.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)