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SHY KID? STRESSED MOM?

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by Alison Hogan

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Using the assumption that it’s no fun to be shy, parents would do well to curb their own stress, according to new research — which shows that shyness in kids could be related to being raised by stressed-out parents.

   Such kids also need to possess a gene that’s associated with stress sensitivity, however.  It’s the gene, coupled with stressed-out parents, that seems to result in shy kids, say researchers at the Child Development Laboratory at the University of Maryland. Their study was recently published in the journal, Current Directions in Psychological Science.

   "Moms who report being stressed are likely to act differently toward their child than moms who report little stress," said Professor Nathan Fox, director of the Laboratory. "A mom under stress transfers that stress to the child. However, each child reacts to that stress somewhat differently. Our study found that genes play a role in this variability, such that those children who have a stress-sensitive variant of a serotonin-related gene are particularly likely to appear shy while growing up when they also are raised by mothers with high levels of stress.

   "If you are raised in a stressful environment, and you inherit the short form of the gene, there is a higher likelihood that you will be fearful, anxious or depressed."



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