Beyond bashful: Examining links between social anxiety and young children’s socio-emotional and school adjustment.


Socially anxious children experience discomfort in social situations and fear being negatively evaluated by others. The goal of the current study was to examine the predictors and correlates of heightened social anxiety in a community sample of young children. Participants were N = 268 children in preschool, kindergarten, and grade 1 classes (Mage = 68.06 mos, SD = 11.30). Mothers rated their own personality, as well as children’s temperamental characteristics and social anxiety. Mothers and teachers provided assessments of children’s adjustment in and outside of school (e.g., social adjustment, peer experiences, academic performance). Overall, results indicated that symptoms of social anxiety were positively associated with social and school maladjustment. The current study provides preliminary evidence that symptoms of social anxiety in early childhood are present, identifiable, and problematic. Findings are discussed in terms of the implications for young socially anxious children’s early adjustment, as well as potential targets for early prevention/intervention.