Behavioral inhibition is one of the most stable characteristics reported in childhood. Early behavioral inhibition, along with anxiety and social wariness (BI-ANX), is often reinforced and exacerbated by children?s reciprocal interactions with parents across development. Importantly, stable BI/ANX places young children at subsequent risk for diagnosable anxiety disorders (namely, social phobia) during adolescence and adulthood. The proposed project aims to develop and evaluate a novel early intervention program that is grounded in developmental psychopathology research insofar as it targets the specific risk factors implicated in the development and persistence of shyness, social reticence, and withdrawal in children to facilitate adaptive developmental outcomes (i.e., the absence of social phobia). This proposal meets the objectives of Stage I of the NIMH R34 ?From Intervention Development to Services: Exploratory Research Grants? (PAR-06-248). The primary aim of Phase I is to develop a developmentally-grounded, multi-component early intervention program for BI/ANX preschoolers and their parents.
The aims of Phase II are to refine and evaluate our early intervention program compared to a waitlist control condition on outcomes including child behavioral inhibition and parenting, using a multi-method assessment consisting of parent and teacher reports and observational data.
Behavioral inhibition (BI), along with its associated characteristics of social reticence and withdrawal, is one of the most stable individual characteristics reported in childhood. Socially inhibited, wary and withdrawn preschool children are at risk for subsequent diagnosable anxiety and depressive disorders during adolescence and adulthood. Given the serious developmental outcomes associated with adolescent anxiety, very early identification and prevention of early social inhibition represents a major public health agenda.