Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 March 2020
Identifying early risk factors for the development of social anxiety symptoms has important translational implications. Accurately identifying which children are at the highest risk is of critical importance, especially if we can identify risk early in development. We examined continued risk for social anxiety symptoms at the transition to adolescence in a community sample of children (n = 112) that had been observed for high fearfulness at age 2 and tracked for social anxiety symptoms from preschool through age 6. In our previous studies, we found that a pattern of dysregulated fear (DF), characterized by high fear in low threat contexts, predicted social anxiety symptoms at ages 3, 4, 5, and 6 years across two samples. In the current study, we re-evaluated these children at 11–13 years of age by using parent and child reports of social anxiety symptoms, parental monitoring, and peer relationship quality. The scores for DF uniquely predicted adolescents’ social anxiety symptoms beyond the prediction that was made by more proximal measures of behavioral (e.g., kindergarten social withdrawal) and concurrent environmental risk factors (e.g., parental monitoring, peer relationships). Implications for early detection, prevention, and intervention are discussed.
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