The Transaction between Parents’ Perceptions of their Children’s Shyness and their Parenting Styles


parenting, children, social wariness/inhibition, socialization


In recent years, researchers have examined factors that “determine” parenting beliefs, styles, and behaviours. One potential determinant of parenting is the child him/herself. Child characteristics, such as temperament, have been cited as evocative influences on parenting beliefs and behaviours. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the longitudinal relations between children’s social wariness/inhibition and parents’ beliefs about how to best socialise their children. Questionnaire data on child temperament and parenting practices were collected from the parents (mothers and fathers) of sixty 2-year-olds; identical data were collected 2 years later. Observations of inhibited behaviour were taken at two years. Results indicated that few differences existed between mothers’ and fathers’ expressed parenting styles at ages 2 and 4 years. Second, parental perceptions of child shyness at age 2 were: (a) stable to age 4; and (b) predicted a lack of encouragement of independence at age 4. Third, parents’ expressed lack of encouragement of independence, although stable from 2 to 4 years, failed to predict child shyness at age 4. The findings support the conjecture that young children’s dispositional characteristics predict subsequent maternal and paternal behaviour.

Original Publication Citation

Rubin, K. H., Nelson, L. J., Hastings, P., & Asendorpf, J. (1999). The transaction between parents’ perceptions of their children’s shyness and their parenting styles. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 23, 937-957.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



International Journal of Behavioral Development




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor