Social Withdrawal and Social Anxiety in Relation to Stylistic Parenting Dimensions in the Indian Cul...

Gurpreet Kaur Sandhu, Vandana Sharma

Research in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

Social Withdrawal and Social Anxiety in Relation to Stylistic Parenting Dimensions in the Indian Cultural Context

Gurpreet Kaur Sandhu1,, Vandana Sharma2

1Department of Psychology, Goverment Mohindra College, Patiala, Punjab, India

2Department of Psychology, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab, India


The purpose of the study was to examine associations between composite parenting behaviors’ (parenting styles and dimensions) and social withdrawal and social anxiety. Participants of the study were 227 girls in India with age ranging from 6-11 years. The parents completed the parenting styles and dimension questionnaire and girls completed Social anxiety scale for children while the parents/teachers completed the Teacher report syndrome scale for social withdrawal behavior in girls. Pearson’s product moment correlations were done to study the associations between parenting behaviors’ and social anxiety and social withdrawal respectively. A standard multiple regression analysis was used with social withdrawal and social anxiety as dependent variables. Correlational results indicated that authoritarian, uninvolved parenting styles and physical coercion, verbal hostility, non-reasoning and indifference parenting dimensions are positively correlated with social anxiety and socially withdrawn behaviors’. Authoritative style, and parental dimensions of connection, regulation and autonomy granting are inversely correlated with social anxiety and socially withdrawn behaviors’ Results from multiple regression analyses indicated that uninvolved, non- reasoning, neglect and reject parenting dimensions positively predicted social anxiety and social withdrawal in girls, while authoritative style and connection parenting dimensions inversely predicted social withdrawal and social anxiety among girls. The present findings suggest the positive contribution of authoritative, connection stylistic dimensions in amelioration of social emotional problems among girls and inverse contribution of uninvolved, non-reasoning, neglect, reject parenting styles and dimensions in exacerbation of social anxiety and socially withdrawn behaviors’ in girls in the Indian cultural context.

Cite this article:

  • Gurpreet Kaur Sandhu, Vandana Sharma. Social Withdrawal and Social Anxiety in Relation to Stylistic Parenting Dimensions in the Indian Cultural Context. Research in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences. Vol. 3, No. 3, 2015, pp 51-59.
  • Sandhu, Gurpreet Kaur, and Vandana Sharma. "Social Withdrawal and Social Anxiety in Relation to Stylistic Parenting Dimensions in the Indian Cultural Context." Research in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences 3.3 (2015): 51-59.
  • Sandhu, G. K. , & Sharma, V. (2015). Social Withdrawal and Social Anxiety in Relation to Stylistic Parenting Dimensions in the Indian Cultural Context. Research in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, 3(3), 51-59.
  • Sandhu, Gurpreet Kaur, and Vandana Sharma. "Social Withdrawal and Social Anxiety in Relation to Stylistic Parenting Dimensions in the Indian Cultural Context." Research in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences 3, no. 3 (2015): 51-59.

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1. Introduction

Social withdrawal refers to consistent display of solitary behaviors in the presence of peers. More specifically socially withdrawn children remove themselves from peer interactions because of underlying social fear and anxiety that inhibits social approach motivations [1]. Social anxiety (also known as social phobia) is characterized by fear and avoidance of social situations, accompanied by excessive preoccupation and fear of embarrassment and negative evaluation by others in social situations. In this study social anxiety is conceptualized as children’s subjective worries regarding negative evaluation from peers and children’s feelings of social avoidance and distress in new situations and those that are more generally experienced [2].

Social anxiety and social withdrawal are among the most common social emotional behavioural problems among girls in the Indian culture [3, 4]. Ironically, social anxiety and social withdrawal are not perceived as sociomotional problems behaviours ‘in the Indian culture. Contrarily, in keeping with the predominant collectivistic cultural norms, social withdrawal and self restrained behaviours’ among girls are positively evaluated and interpreted as indices of social maturity and understanding. Shy, quiet, obedient, reticent and submissive girls represent the veritable models of social decorum in the Indian culture [4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. Given the cultural acceptability and non- pathological perception of social anxiety and socially withdrawn behaviours’ among girls in the Indian culture, these social emotional behaviours’ tend to be “invisible” and “neglected” in social settings and they often go unrecognized by parents and teachers. Moreover girls are specifically vulnerable to socioemotional problem behaviours parental ethno theories emphasize “a relational sense of self in girls”. The girls are reared to base their self-identity more on their social roles and social relationship with others, with heightened concern on social acceptability and positive evaluations’ in context of social interrelationships. Although, India is an exemplary of a culture with a blend of subtle individualism embedded within collectivism, the traditional parenting of girls continues to emphasizes developmental pathway of interdependence, relatedness, sensitivity to others, family obligations, parental control, obedience, and strong kinship network [6]. The traditional parenting in Indian is perceived to be high on authoritarian parenting style and low on authoritative parenting style with lower permissiveness of girls. In the urban India, parents are cautiously encouraging autonomy in girls while maintaining emotional connectedness and interdependence but curb psychological independence and individuation [7, 8, 9] However, endorsing relational socialization goals, parents socialize girls to control and regulate undesirable emotional expressions, particularly sadness and anger to serve larger goal of maintaining social relationships and community harmony [6, 10]. In context of the collective cultural neglect of withdrawn behaviors and social anxieties among girls in India, this research study seeks to understand the parental etiologic of the social emotional behaviors.

Previous cross cultural researches have underscored the beneficial effects of authoritative parenting on girls social emotional competence [13]. Previous researches have shown that pre-adolescent and adolescent girls of authoritative parents tend to be socially responsible, competent, friendly and cooperative with peers. In contrast parents who provide imbalanced responsiveness and control (authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved) are likely to have girls who are socially incompetent/ aggressive, and or socially withdrawn [14, 15]. Indeed, authoritarian style(high punitive control and low warmth) has been linked to social anxiety, insecurity in company of peers and social incompetence in girls [16, 17]. Notably Bowl by attachment theory posits that the quality of parent child relationship in childhood determines the secure and insecure attachments/or internal working models which may serve as a contributory factor to development of social withdrawal and social anxiety in children. Landing support to this theory Irons and Gilbert [18] found a secure attachment style to be predictive of low social anxiety and social submissive while insecure attachment predicted social anxiety.

The conceptual framework guiding the present study brings together Rohner’s Parent acceptance –rejection theory and cultural normativeness perspective, which contends that the effect of parenting behaviors on the girls behavioral outcomes is contingent on their perceptions of parental acceptance–rejection within the cultural context [19]. Asian parents have been described as “controlling”, “restrictive”, and “hostile” in context to authoritarian parenting style. However Chen et al. [20] argues that parental control over children in collectivistic cultures reflects parental concern, care and involvement and not domineering control perceived by individualistic cultures. Given differential cultural connotations, authoritarian parenting has been associated with both positive and negative child social adjustment [21]. The discrepant findings highlight the need of to understand parenting and its influence on social emotional problems in light of culturally sensitive conceptualizations. Most of cross cultural research on parenting and child and social competence has exclusively focused on East Asian samples [22] with few studies focusing on South Asia samples. To our knowledge only few studies have explored the phenomenology of social withdrawal in children and adolescence in India [4, 5], however the linkages between parenting and social emotional behaviors have not been explicitly explored in Indian society.

The parenting variables influence social anxiety in children by either (a)familial environments that are rejecting, hostile, and emotionally distant or (b) modeling negative and cautious beliefs about the level of danger in the world, and overvalued importance of others opinion [23, 24]. Parental control or patterns of excessive regulation of children’s activities impairs children’s perception of mastery and control over environment and may put children at a risk for social anxiety by creating cognitive bias characterized by perceiving events as out of one’s control. Chorpita [25] demonstrated that external locus of control mediates relation between controlling parental style and child anxiety. The behavioral model and social learning model contend that parents shape anxious and socially withdrawn behavior in children through processes of modeling, conditioning and reinforcement. In support of the models, Dadds and Vasey [26] observed that parents (with anxious children) promoted cautious and avoidant child behavior by modeling avoidance, vocalizing doubting the child abilities, and providing acceptance and comfort when child displayed avoidant/ withdrawn behavior. Enunciating the tripartite model of impact of family on children emotional regulation and their adjustment, Eisenberg et al demonstrated that emotional dysregulation displayed by parents through punitive, hostile, rejection parenting affects the ability of children to regulate their emotions [27]. Children transfer negative affect and poor emotional regulation skills acquired via parent-child interactions and observational learning to their peer interactions resulting in incompetent peer interactions and social problems [28] Research suggests the mediating effect of children’s emotion regulation in channeling the effect of emotion-related negative parenting practices on children’s social adjustment [29, 30].

With regard to parenting and social withdrawal in children, Mills and Rubin’s [31] observed that relative to the mothers of normal children, mothers of extremely anxious –withdrawn children (ages 5-9) directed significantly more behavior control statements to their children. Further mothers of anxious-withdrawn children used more psychological control statements defined as devaluation statements or non- responsiveness to the child. Such authoritarian parenting may also be accompanied by expressions of criticism and disapproval, and this negativity may attack child’s sense of self-worth and may exacerbate withdrawn behaviors in children.

Cross cultural literature on parental rejection found that perceived parental rejection was associated with psychological maladjustment among children. To explain the above the attachment model and the parental acceptance–rejection theory implicates, dysfunctional parent–child bonding, maladaptive cognitive affective schemes and perceived rejection as the etiologic of social emotional disorders in children as a function of parental rejection [19] With regard to uninvolved/neglectful parenting and social withdrawal in children, Hoffman- Plotkin and Twentyman [33] found positive associations between neglectful parenting and social withdrawal in children. Crittenden [34] argues that as a consequence of parental neglect and ensuing insecure attachments, neglected children may never learn strategies for independently exploring their environments, tending to be passive interactants which may extend to their peer domain also. Emotion models posit that neglectful parents minimize, discredit and inhibit display of emotions which in turn disrupts emotion regulation skills of children. Supporting the model Eisenberg et al found that parental minimization of children’s emotion has been linked with avoidant emotion regulation [30]. In addition longitudinal analyses by Eisenberg indicate that in general parents’ negative reactions to emotional displays are associated with low quality of social functioning and emotional regulation difficulties [27, 30].

Enunciating typological and dimensional approaches to parent child relationships and its applicability in Indian culture [6, 7, 12], we seek to explore dominant parenting styles and parenting dimensions in context of girls and investigate the contribution of parenting behaviors’ towards social anxiety and social withdrawal respectively.

2. Methodology

2.1. Purpose of Study

The present study aimed to explore the relationship between parenting behaviors’ (Parenting styles and parenting dimensions) and social anxiety and social withdrawal among girls in context of Indian culture. We examined four research questions in this study

1. Exploration of dominant parenting styles and parenting dimensions endorsed by parents of young girls in Indian cultural context?

2. Are there any relationships between parenting styles (indexed by authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved) and parenting dimensions (indexed by connection, regulation, autonomy granting, physical coercion, non-reasoning, verbal hostility, indulgence, reject, neglect, indifferent) to social withdrawal and social anxiety among girls?

3. What is the role of authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and uninvolved parenting typology in predicting social anxiety and social withdrawal in girls?

4. What is the contribution of connection, regulation, autonomy granting, verbal hostility, physical coercion, non-reasoning, indulgence, reject, neglect, indifferent parenting dimensions in predicting social anxiety and social withdrawal in girls?

2.2. Participants

The participants were 227 girls in the age range of 6--11 years with mean age of 9.9 years (SD=1.86). The girls were enrolled in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th 6thand 7th grades of public schools of Chandigarh city. The age of fathers ranged from 28-45 years (M=32, SD=4.6)and the age of the mothers ranged from 23-40 years (M=32, SD=5.7). 17.5% parents had university education (post graduates), while 77% of the parents had completed college education (graduate level), with 5.5% parents educated up till high school. The sample was drawn from the middle socioeconomic strata and joint / nuclear families residing in the urban areas of Chandigarh Union territory.

2.3. Measure and Procedure

Child Behavior Checklist (Parent/Teacher Report Forms)-Syndrome scales for Girls [35] evaluates 8 emotional and behavioral problems in girls, namely. The scale consist of 105 items to be rated by teachers and parents on a 3 point scale (not true, sometime true, very true). In the present study social withdrawal is measured on the withdrawn/depressed subscales of CBCL for the ages 6-11years. The Croanbach alpha for parent rated and TRF is .80 and .81respectively.

Social Anxiety Scale for Children version –Revised (SASC-CA) [36] are self-report measure designed to assess children level of social evaluative anxiety for the ages 7-13years. This scale consist of 18 items (4 filler items ) that evaluates 3 aspects of social anxiety. Fear of negative evaluation from peers (FNE=8 items), Social avoidance and distress around new peers and new situations (SAD/New=6 items) and generalized social avoidance and distress (SDA-General =4 items).The items are rated on a 5 point Likertscale. The internal consistencies for subscales ranged from .69 (SDA-General) to .78 (SAD-New) to .86 (FNE).

Parent Child Relationship Scale [37] is an Indian adaptation of Roe-Seigalman Parent-Child Relationship Questionnaire [38]. The questionnaire is designed to obtain the measure of characteristic of parents’ behavior toward their young children, as experienced by the child. The 10 subtests of the scale measures behavior characterized as Loving, Protection, demanding, rejection, neglecting, Indifferent, Symbolic love reward, direct object reward, symbolic love punishment, direct object punishment. It consist of 100 items assessing/measuring 10 parenting (subsets) dimensions to be rated by children on a five point scale anchored by 1(very rarely) and 5(always). Neglect, Indifferent (Casual) and Reject parenting dimensions each consisting of 10 items measured parenting dimensions and the composite score of the three dimensions evaluated uninvolved parenting style. The test-retest reliability of the scale is ranged from .77 to .87 and concurrent validity for father’s form ranged from .73 to .84 and mother’s from .68 to .78.

The Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (abridged version) [39] is a 32-item self-report measure of parenting dimensions that are characteristic of each of Diana Baumrind’s (1971) parenting styles. The authoritative parenting style consisted of three stylistic dimensions: (1) connection–Warmth/involvement ;( 2) regulation-induction/reasoning (3) autonomy granting-democratic participation. The Authoritarian pattern consisted of three stylistic dimensions ;( 1) verbal hostility (2) physical coercion (3) non-reasoning. The permissive pattern consist of indulgence dimension. For the 32-item abbreviated version, the Croanbach’s alpha coefficient for three factors: authoritative, authoritarian and permissive were .86, .82, .64 respectively. Parenting styles is traditionally assessed with paper pencil measures that require the respondent to evaluate global patterns of parenting styles over long or unspecified periods of time. The parenting styles and dimensions questionnaire (PSDQ) is a psychometric assessment, conceptually and empirically consistent and congruent with Baumrind’s typology and current literature.

Approval was obtained from the directors and principals of the private/public/convent schools prior to conducting research. Parental consent was obtained via telephonic conversations, letters and forms sent home and subsequently returned to schools. The questionnaires were administered in English as English is a main language of instruction in schools in Chandigarh. The preliminary screening of the girls was conducted with help from teachers and school counselors to assess the symptoms of social anxiety and social withdrawal. Thereafter the girls completed (SASC-CA/PCRS) in the presence of teacher or researchers and teachers completed the CBCL/TRF questionnaire. The questionnaire to be completed by the parents (CBCL/PSDQ) were sent home and returned to the researcher by the teacher.

2.4. Data Analyses

To explore the dominant stylistic parenting dimension, Means and SD’s were computed. To address research question 2,Pearson’s correlation analyses were performed to analyze the relationships between parenting styles, parenting dimensions and social withdrawal and social anxiety respectively. For research question 3 and 4, Standard multiple regression was performed to understand the unique influence of parenting styles and parenting dimensions’ on social anxiety and social withdrawal respectively [51].

3. Results

3.1. Parenting Styles and Dimensions

Descriptive analyses pertaining to parenting styles and parenting dimensions demonstrated that authoritative (M=4.13, SD=.789), authoritarian (M=3.12, SD=1.13) and uninvolved (M=3.98, SD=.831) parenting emerged as dominant parenting styles. With regard to parenting dimensions, connection (M=4.02, SD=1.05), non-reasoning (M=3.93, SD=1.20), verbal hostility (M=3.90, SD=1.20), indifferent (M=3.01, SD=.927), rejection (M=2.96, SD=.775) and neglect (M=2.86, SD=.869 dimensions were found to be dominant parental behaviors’ in our sample (see Table 1).

Table 1. Descriptive statistics of the measures parenting styles, dimensions and social anxiety and social withdrawal

3.2. Correlations

The analyses of Pearson’s product moment correlations’ between parenting behaviors and socially withdrawn and social anxiety measures did not find significant relationships between permissive style and indulgent dimensions and social anxiety and social withdrawal. Authoritative style was inversely correlated with social withdrawal and social anxiety r = -.85, p<.05 and r= -.78, p<.01 respectively. It meant that more the parents showed authoritative parenting with girls, they showed lower levels of social anxiety and social withdrawal. However Authoritarian style were positively correlated with social anxiety r=.57, p<.05 and social withdrawal r=.65, Likewise uninvolved style was also positively correlated with social anxiety r=.75, p<.01 and social withdrawal r=.80, p<.001. Connection r= -.78, p<.01, Autonomy granting r= -.55, p<.05 Induction /reasoning r = -.61, p<.05 parenting dimensions were inversely correlated with social withdrawal. There were also inverse correlations between Connection r= -.81, p<.02, Autonomy granting r= -.60, p<.01 Induction /reasoning r=-.53, p<.05 parenting dimensions and social anxiety respectively. However indifferent r=.56, p<.05, reject r=.80, p<.001 neglect r=.75, p<.01 dimensions were positively correlated with social withdrawal. Similarly indifferent r=.79, p<.01, reject r=.72, p<.01 neglect r=.69, p<.05 dimensions were also positively correlated with social anxiety. Physical coercion r=.51, p<.05, verbal hostility r=.63, p<.05 and non-reasoning r=.73, p<.05 were positively correlated with social withdrawal. Positive correlations were found between physical coercion=.48, p<.05, verbal hostility r=.75, p<.05, non-reasoning r=.67, p<.05 dimensions and social anxiety. (see Table 2).

Table 2. Correlation coefficients’ between parenting behaviors and social anxiety and social withdrawal

3.3. Multiple Regression Analyses

Multiple regression analysis of the predictor variables (parenting behaviors) towards the criterion variable of social withdrawal. The F statistic was found to be significant; F(14,98)=16.78, p<.001. The multiple correlation coefficient R was .840, R square was .706 and the adjusted R square was .664.The regression was a good fit with a variance of 66.4% between predictor parenting variables and the criterion variable. The beta coefficients for connection dimension β=-.427, t(98)= -2.04,p<.05, non-reasoning dimension β=.433, t(98)=2.27, p<.05, reject β=2.04, t(98)=4.59, p<.001, neglect dimension β=.360, t(98)=2.04, p<.05, authoritative style β=-.369, t(98)=-2.95, p<.05, and uninvolved style β=1.65, t(98)=2.36, p<.05, significantly predicted social anxiety scores (see Table 3).

Table 3. Multiple Regression analysis for social anxiety

3.4. Multiple Regression

Multiple regression analysis of parenting variables towards social anxiety in girls. The F statistic was found to be significant; F(14,99)=42.65p<.001.The multiple correlation coefficient R was .926, R square was .858 and the adjusted R square was .838. This indicated common variance of 83.8% between predictor parenting variables and the social anxiety. The beta coefficients for connection dimension β= -.265, t(99)=2.67, p<.01, authoritative style β=-.329, t(99)=-3.71, p<.001, non-reasoning β=.287, t(99)=2.28, p<.05, neglect dimension β=.380, t(99)=2.53, p<.05, rejection dimension β=.673, t(99)=2.69,p<.01 and uninvolved style β=.577, t(99)=1.98, p<.05 were found to be significant (see Table 4).

Table 4. Multiple Regression analysis for social withdrawal

4. Discussion and Conclusions

The purpose of the study was to explore dominant parenting behaviors and investigate associations between stylistic parenting dimensions and social withdrawal and social anxiety among girls and toascertain their unique contribution to social anxiety and social withdrawal respectively in the Indian culture.

Consistent with previous researches, authoritative parenting style inversely contributes to social anxiety and social withdrawal [9, 16, 17]. According to reciprocity theorists [15] authoritative parents socialize their children through participation in close relationships and regulated democratic interactions that are constructed and sustained over time. This responsiveness and sensitivity of parents to the needs of the children fosters reciprocal responsiveness in girls to parental inputs and aspirations by intrinsically motivating children to preserve parent–child relationship based on reciprocated affection and inductive reasoning. The combination of high warmth and high control appears to protect girls ’ from fears, anxieties, withdrawn behavior and facilitates development of social, cognitive and self-regulatory skills. Partially mirroring the western literature on authoritarian parenting [16, 17]the findings indicate that although authoritarian parenting is positively correlated with social emotional problems among girls, however it does not contributes to social withdrawal and social anxiety in girls. Although parents predominantly endorse authoritarian style with greater emphasis on obedience, submissiveness and, conformity to culturally prescribed social behaviors, yet it does not contribute to social anxiety and social withdrawal in girls. It is argued that may be, girls perceived authoritarian parenting as an instrumental disciplinary method of behavioral regulation and not domineering or hostile control as interpreted in the western literature. Furthermore girls equated “authoritarianism” to “parental strictness” and normatively accepted authoritarian parenting without any apparent signs of emotional disturbance or anxiety, perhaps is the plausible cultural explanation of the findings [11, 21]. These are consistent to findings in East Asian samples [20, 22]. In terms of cultural context, our findings are amenable to Dwairy’s inconsistency hypothesis that that parenting behaviors which are consistent with the sociocultural milieu does not lead to detrimental child outcomes [45].

Building on the phenomenological perspective, we defined parental rejection, indifference or neglect as not the “specific set of actions by parents”, but a perception held by the child. Enunciating children’s perception of parenting as underscored in PAR Theory[32],the result underline the positive contribution of uninvolved parenting to social anxiety and social withdrawal. In context of gender discriminatory parenting in India, putatively, social emotional behaviors ‘in girls are often perceived as “strategies for receiving attention or gaining proximity of caregivers who may not be contingently responsive”. It is speculated that since the girls do not receive necessary care and attention from their parents because of preference for boys, they often struggle to develop appropriate social interactional skills with others which leads to anxieties, loneliness, and fears, dependent and withdrawn behaviors’. Our findings are consistent with previous researches documenting detrimental effect of uninvolved parenting on children’s psychological health [15, 16, 17]. Also, our results are compatible with Young et al [40] who found that children who perceived emotional neglect by parents had elevated symptoms of psychopathology. Although our findings are limited by having no objective evidence that girls perceptions of uninvolved parenting are directly associated with actual neglect. Nevertheless, the findings are corroborated by the National Study of Child abuse and neglect by parents and Caregivers in India [42]. It is also highlighted that child maltreatment, be it neglect, physical abuse or emotional abuse is rampant and underreported in the Indian society. Moreover parents in India can get away with child assault or abuse in the name of discipline for there is no specific law in the Indian penal code to penalize abusive parents or caregivers. This is an urgent issue for further investigations.

In accordance with the hypothesis, connection parenting dimension inversely contributed towards social anxiety and social withdrawal. Numerous studies validate beneficial effect of parental-child warmth/responsiveness on social emotional competence in children [13, 14]. It is contended that connection dimension establishes secure parent-child attachment which imparts sense of security and trust in child through contingent responsivity, accessibility and emotional supportiveness, which in turn buffers children from anxieties. Supporting the model Grusen and Goodnow [43] found that when parents are warm, accepting and supportive of their children, they are more likely to internalize parental inputs of appropriate social behaviors’ and are less likely to experience intense stress, frustrations or anxiety. Parke et al [28] found that parent-child affectional system is an intrinsically motivating care giving system which channels children’s adaptive behavioral development by inculcation of internalized moral orientation, identification with parents and a high level of compliance which facilitates transmission of parental and cultural value system and protects children from social emotional behavioral problems.

Augmenting the cultural perspective of socialization of girls [7, 8] regulation parenting dimension (behavioral control characterized by rational communication, inductive enforcement of rules and supervision and monitoring of whereabouts of children)is inversely correlated with anxiety and withdrawn behavior in girls. The young girls in India are accustomed to “parental control” or “over solicitious parenting”, whereby parents constantly monitor, regulate and supervise social activities/ behaviors of girls. The presence of communication, directiveness and structured behavioral contingencies in parent child interactions are perceived positively as parental concern and involvement, which in turn foster psychological security, self-efficacy and psychosocial competence in girls. Contrarily, low levels of parental regulation may engender vulnerability to social emotional problems in girls because it is attributively perceived as withdrawal of “affectional attention”. This explanation is relevant to parenting of girls in Indian culture. However regulation parenting dimension did not significantly contribute to social anxiety and with drawn behaviors’

Autonomy granting, conceptualized as opportunities for child’s expression of thoughts and feelings, encouragement of self-initiation, provision of choice and promotion of volitional functioning is an emergent parental behavior in context of girls in India. Although findings indicate inverse linkages between autonomy granting dimension and socioemotional behavioral problems among girls, it did not uniquely contribute to social anxiety and social withdrawal. It is noteworthy, that though parents emphasize educational and occupational achievement in girls they do not encourage autonomoussocial emotional functioning in girls. Pertinent to the Indian context is the converse paradigm of autonomy granting which is conceptualized as excessive regulation of children’s activities, instructions to girls on how to think, feel and behave. These parental restrictions in decision making promotes child’s excessive dependency on parents and curbs development of age appropriate mastery skills, independence and individuation and perpetuates feelings of helplessness and insecurity both within and outside family. Consequently decreased perception of control and learned helplessness fosters self-doubt, impairment in social skills, social reticence, anxiety and withdrawn behaviors’ [25, 31][25, 31].

The painful nature of physical coercion evokes feelings of fear, distress and anxiety in children which is underscored in the moderately positive correlations of physical coercion and social emotional problems in girls. However beta coefficients’ were not significant. The results indicate that physical coercion is not commonly endorsed parenting behavior with girls. Both attachment model and emotion model propound that physically punished children internalize the seething emotional pain, which not only erodes the parent-child attachment but scars the psyche of the child permanently. The emotional pain arouses ambivalent feelings of resentment, deep humiliation, hatred, sadness, low self-esteem, fear which may further manifest as social withdrawal, anxiety in case of young girls. As expected parents acknowledged using physical coercion to discipline girls, but reported it as their least preferred method [42].

The present study found that parental verbal hostility is positively associated with social anxiety and withdrawn behaviors. The results are partly corroborated by findings of Vissing et al. [46] who found that verbal aggression by parents is closely related to psychosocial problems in children. Consistent with the cultural scripts and parenting ethnotheory [8, 47], parents acknowledged engaging in verbally hostile interactive behavior with girls, presumably with the rationale to channelize socially appropriate behavior in congruence to societal mores and norms. Furthermore, in keeping with the gender role stereotyping, the girls predominantly responded to parental verbal hostility with high levels of anxiety and social withdrawal.

Non reasoning parenting is defined as power assertive control by meting out punishments (such as, withdrawal of privileges, time out, and physical punishments) without plausible justifications. Enunciating the power assertive socialization of girls with emphasis on appropriate social behaviors, social acceptability and sensitivity towards others in the network of social relationships, the results suggested positive contribution of non- reasoning parenting towards social anxiety and social withdrawal respectively. The heightened vulnerability of the girls to social anxiety in Indian culture may also be explained in terms of relational model and social cognitive model of social anxiety which underlines the interdependent – relational evaluative social experiences as a contributing in social anxiety disorder [41, 47]. Parental power assertion undermines emotional regulation [29] and evokes ambivalent feelings of fear, anger and sadness, particularly if they feel they were inappropriately punished. The backlash of seething negative emotions accentuates sadness, insecurity, humiliation, helplessness and anxiety. To explain social withdrawal as function of power assertive parenting, Bowl by [44] suggested that deficient parent-child warmth may perpetuate disorganized attachments, feelings of insecurity and uncertainty that may lead some girls to "shrink from their social world or social milieu!”The above rationale supports the unique contribution of non-reasoning parenting to social emotional problems in girls.

In this study parental indifference is defined as lack of interest in child’s feelings and activities, failure to spend time with child, absence of supervision and lax controls. Consistent with our hypotheses, indifferent parenting is positively associated with socioemotional behaviors’’. In terms of behavioralmodels, social anxiety and social withdrawal may be explained as reaction to low rates of response-contingent positive reinforcement from indifferent parents. In addition girls are accustomed to parental indifference because of dominant patriarchal family ideology of preference for boys. Perhaps the cultural normative perception explain the moderated the association between indifferent parenting and socioemotional behaviors’ among girls [45, 47].

The paradox of neglecting parenting is that children desperately need comfort and support of their parents, but rarely seek it or seem comforted by it because of insecure(anxious ambivalent)–parent child attachment. Insecurely attached girls are deprived of comforting parents who consistently respond in a sensitive manner to their psychological and physical needs. These explanations are in accord with Brumariu and Kerns [48] who found ambivalent/anxious mother child attachment was consistently related with social anxiety. Our findings that neglect parenting significantly predict social withdrawal and social anxiety in girls. Consistent with studies of Ciccehetti, & Kaufman [49] wherein neglected girls exhibited social reticence avoidant and social anxiety in interpersonal situations and Crittenden [34] who found that neglected children are socially detached and disinterested. In support of the findings, social learning model argues that since neglecting parents neither respond to needs of the children nor encourage them to access stimulating social environment, therefore children do not learn the strategies for engaging in social interactions or independently exploring the environment.

With regard to rejection parenting, the results suggest that parental rejection positively contributes to social emotional problems in girls. In both PAR theories [32] and attachment theory [44] parents are primary attachment figures for children in childhood and their sense of security and emotional states are dependent on the perceived quality of children relationship with their parents. Children who perceive themselves as rejected by parents tend to feel anxious and insecure and are more inclined to expect rejection from peers in social situations. Similarly, the findings of Downey and Feldman [50] contend that parental rejection in childhood leads to heightened “rejection sensitivity” and predispose children to expect rejection from peers in ways the compromises social competence. Supplicating the above, the cross cultural research validates PAR theory predictions that parental rejection has negative effects on psychological adjustments and behavioral problems of children.

Meanwhile there are also numbers of limitations that need to be considered when interpreting the results of this study. First this is a correlational study, and thus, it is not possible to ascertain causal effects. Future longitudinal research is needed to establish causal directions of the relationships.Second, the findings of the present research pertain to self- reports of parenting and parent/teacher reports of social withdrawal and child reports of social anxiety among girls. The assessment of uninvolved parenting style and its dimensions are based on child reports. Some researchers assert that children’s report of parents’ behavior have been found to be more accurate and closely related to reality than parents self-reported parenting behaviors and others contend that children’s perceptions of parenting maybe biased. However, self- report measures are also considered optimal method of assessing parenting. Nonetheless, methodologically it’s rather reliable because the associations between uninvolved parenting and social emotional problems have been separately sourced from parents and children. Third, the present sample was drawn from the urban, educated middle class residents of Chandigarh, which represents influence of both collectivistic and individualistic orientations, particularly with regard to gender issue. Therefore our results should be interpreted cautiously while attempting to generalize conclusions to families in Indian society, because India is vast country with diverse socioeconomic classes and regional subcultures that could have differential impact on the social emotional behaviors of girls.

5. Conclusions

The results pertaining to significant contribution of authoritative and neglectful typologies towards social anxiety and social withdrawal indicate dialectical co-existence of both high levels of warmth and control alongside low levels of warmth and control with ameliorative and detrimental effects respectively, on the social emotional problems in girls. However authoritarian style did not contribute to social emotional problems. This finding reiterates the culture specific conceptualizations of authoritarian parenting in relation to social emotional behaviors of girls. Contrariwise specific parenting dimensions of non-reasoning and verbal hostility parenting significantly predicted withdrawn behaviors and social anxiety. These finding indicated either blatant rejection or non-normative perceptions of power assertive and verbally hostile parenting behaviors by girls in context of sociocultural milieu. Augmenting the blend of western and eastern cultures, the mixed findings reflect influence of the prevalent autonomy-relatedness cultural model. Subscribing to Indian cultural scripts, indifferent, reject and neglect parenting dimensions positively contributed to clinical manifestations of social anxiety and social withdrawal in girls and provided clear evidence of continued devaluation and discrimination girls in the Indian society. Despite culture–consistent normative perceptions of parents towards social withdrawal and social anxiety among girls, the findings clearly indicate clinical/ pathological manifestation of withdrawn behaviors and social anxiety as a function of stylistic parenting dimensions in Indian the culture. Taken together, results from this study suggest blended influence of both individualistic and collectivistic cultural model on parenting on social anxiety and social withdrawal among girls. Given the relative adaptive functionality of shy and inhibited behaviors in achieving and maintaining social order and interpersonal harmony in the contemporary Indian society, it is suggested that socially withdrawn behaviors among girls are encouraged by parents in the Indian culture. Thus it is unsurprising that pathological social anxiety and social withdrawal among girls is neglected in the Indian culture.


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