A study in the September 2008 issue of Developmental Psychology investigated predictors of social withdrawal in elementary school students. Researchers followed over 1300 children from birth to Grade 6, placing them in three groups: consistently low withdrawal, decreasing withdrawal, and increasing withdrawal. They then looked at factors that predicted which group children would fall into.
Children whose mothers were not sensitive to distress and those who had an insecure relationship with their mothers were more likely to be withdrawn socially. Withdrawal decreased over time for children who were shy.
Kids who had trouble inhibiting inappropriate behaviour were also significantly more likely to fall in the “increasing” group. However, these kids were not more likely to behave aggressively or to show hyperactive behaviours. The researchers suspected that this lack of inhibition was displayed as immature behaviour, leading to rejection as the children moved through the elementary grades. These kids were more neglected or actively neglected by their classmates, and reported loneliness in Grade 6.
The results suggest that early intervention with impulsive kids may be extremely important to their later social development.
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