In early education contexts, shy children are prone to experiencing difficulties in their relationships with peer and teachers. These negative social experiences may, in turn, reinforce shy children's feelings of self-consciousness. The aim of the present study was to test a complex model linking shyness with self-conscious emotions (i.e., guilt, shame) through negative social experiences at preschool (i.e., peer difficulties, non-supportive teacher–child relationships). Participants were 131 (64 boys) preschool children (M = 55.89 months, SD = 9.75) and their teachers (two for each classroom). Multi-source assessment was employed, with parents rating children's shyness and self-conscious emotions (i.e., guilt, shame) and teachers evaluating children's peer difficulties (i.e., rejection, victimization) and the quality (i.e., closeness) of their relationship with each child. Results from path analysis revealed an indirect effect between shyness and self-conscious emotions through negative peer experiences (but not via close teacher–child relationships). More specifically, shyness predicted peer difficulties, which in turn predicted feelings of guilt and shame. This study highlights the potential role of negative experiences with peers in helping to account for the link between shyness and children's negative feelings about themselves. Shy children's positive experiences with peers should be enhanced at preschool in order to help reduce their feelings of guilt and shame.

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Early Childhood Research Quarterly
Department of Psychology

Sette, S. (Stefania), Baldwin, D. (Danielle), Zava, F. (Federica), Baumgartner, E. (Emma), & Coplan, R. (2019). Shame on me? Shyness, social experiences at preschool, and young children's self-conscious emotions. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 47, 229–238. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2018.12.012