Toronto: Strong attachment with parents can help shy babies, especially boys, avoid developing anxiety disorders in their teenage years, a study says.
Attachment is especially vital when a baby shows behavioural inhibition or shyness to new situations or people, the researchers found.
It has been known for some time that young children who react with behavioural inhibition or shyness to new situations have an increased risk of internalising problems as they grow older.
"But with this study, we now understand that infants and young children with an inhibited temperament who also have insecure early attachment relationships are most likely to become socially anxious teens - especially boys," said co-author Heather Henderson from the University of Waterloo.
The study included 165 adolescents aged 14 to 17. Beginning when they were just four months old, they had been periodically assessed throughout early childhood, and later, as adolescents, they completed a number of anxiety assessments.
While the researchers found that behavioural inhibition was associated with higher anxiety when toddlers also had insecure attachment relationships, this association was particularly strong for boys in the study.
The findings appeared in the journal Child Development.