Sulzberger Distinguished Lecture featuring Kenneth Rubin

The Solitary Child: Wherefores and Repercussions

September 29, 2016
3:00 PM-4:30 PM

Some children are quiet and reserved by nature. A child’s lack of social interaction in the peer group may stem from a variety of causes, including social fear and anxiety or a preference for solitude. If children are so shy that they rarely play with other children, though, they can be at risk of later problems. For example, very shy children may have trouble learning social skills for interacting with peers and they may have difficulty in making and keeping friends. From early childhood through adolescence, socially withdrawn children are at risk for a wide range of negative outcomes, including socio-emotional difficulties like anxiety, low self-esteem and depression; peer difficulties, including rejection, victimization and poor friendship quality; and educational challenges such as poor quality teacher-child relationships, academic difficulties and school avoidance.

Kenneth Rubin will provide clarity on the complex array of terms and constructs previously employed in the study of social withdrawal and will examine the predictors, correlates, and consequences of child and early adolescent social withdrawal. He will also present a developmental framework describing the pathways leading to and from social withdrawal in childhood and discuss a novel early intervention for socially inhibited preschool-aged children. “The Turtle Program: Helping Shy Preschoolers Come Out of their Shells” is designed to help shy preschool children gain confidence in social settings and develop positive relationships with their peers and teachers. Rubin and his colleagues at the University of Maryland began the National Institute of Mental Health-funded intervention project in 2010.

Kenneth H. Rubin is professor of human development and quantitative methodology and founding director, Center for Children, Relationships, and Culture at the University of Maryland-College Park. Previously, he was professor, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, and has held Visiting Appointments at Stanford, University of Washington, University of Melbourne (Australia), and the Max-Planck-Institut fur Psychologische Forschung (Munich).

His research interests include the study of child and adolescent social development, especially peer and parent-child relationships; social and emotional adjustment and maladjustment in childhood and adolescence; the origins and developmental course of social competence, social withdrawal, and aggression; all from a cross-cultural perspective. Many of his over 300 peer-reviewed publications have been co-authored by colleagues on five continents.

Among his recent books are the Handbook of Peer Interactions, Relationships, and Groups , The Development of Shyness and Social Withdrawal, Social Anxiety in Childhood: Bridging Developmental and Clinical Perspectives, and Socioemotional Development in Cultural Context. His book, The Friendship Factor, received the National Parenting Publications Gold Award.

Rubin was the president of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development (1998-2002), an elected member of the Society for Research in Child Development Governing Council (2009-2015), and an elected member of the APA Division 7 Executive Board (1987-1990).  He has served as associate editor of Child Development (1981-1984; 1998-2001) and as a review panelist for NIH (USA) and SSHRCC (Canada). He is a Fellow of the American and Canadian Psychological Associations, the Association of Psychological Science, and the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development.

His honors include the Society for Research in Child Development Distinguished Contributions to Understanding International, Cultural, and Contextual Diversity in Child Development Award; the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Research and Theory in Behavioral Development; the Developmental Psychology Mentor Award of the American Psychological Association; and the Pickering Award for Outstanding Contribution to Developmental Psychology in Canada. In 1987, Rubin was awarded the Killam Research Fellowship by the Canada Council; this is one of Canada’s most distinguished research awards given annually to approximately five to seven scholars in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering. He was the first developmental scientist to receive the Killam Fellowship.  At the University of Maryland, Rubin has received the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year Award (2006),  and the Exceptional Scholarship Award (College of Education, 2013).  In 2015, he was named a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher by the University of Maryland.

This talk is free and open to the public. Please join us for a reception immediately afterward.