Professor Heather Henderson, a co-author of the study said, “We now understand that infants and young children with an inhibited temperament who also have insecure early attachment relationships are most likely to become socially anxious teens -- especially boys."


Attachment is especially vital, the researchers found, when a baby shows behavioural inhibition or shyness to new situations or people.

This is the first long-term study of the combined influence of attachment and behavioural inhibition as predictors of teen anxiety.

The other factor in this study, behavioural inhibition was repeatedly assessed over early and middle childhood using laboratory observations and maternal report measures.

The study focus on the toddler and then young child's reaction to unfamiliar objects, people or situations. If they repeatedly respond with fear or social withdrawal, they are classified as behaviourally inhibited.

"We can use this information about early influences to help change the developmental pathways of at-risk children before clinically-significant problems emerge," Professor Henderson added.

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