Send to

Choose Destination
J Consult Clin Psychol. 2015 Jun;83(3):534-40. doi: 10.1037/a0039043. Epub 2015 Mar 23.

Preliminary evaluation of a multimodal early intervention program for behaviorally inhibited preschoolers.

Author information

Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park.
Department of Psychology, Carleton University.
Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.



Approximately 15%-20% of young children can be classified as having a behaviorally inhibited (BI) temperament. Stable BI predicts the development of later anxiety disorders (particularly social anxiety), but not all inhibited children develop anxiety. Parenting characterized by inappropriate warmth/sensitivity and/or intrusive control predicts the stability of BI and moderates risk for anxiety among high-BI children. For these reasons, we developed and examined the preliminary efficacy of the Turtle Program: a multimodal early intervention for inhibited preschool-age children.


Forty inhibited children between the ages of 42-60 months and their parent(s) were randomized to either the Turtle Program (n = 18) or a waitlist control (WLC; n = 22) condition. Participants randomized to the Turtle Program condition received 8 weeks of concurrent parent and child group treatment. Participants were assessed at baseline and posttreatment with multisource assessments, including parent and teacher report measures of child anxiety, diagnostic interviews, and observations of parenting behavior.


The Turtle Program resulted in significant beneficial effects relative to the WLC condition on maternal-reported anxiety symptoms of medium to large magnitude; large effects on parent-reported BI; medium to large effects on teacher-rated school anxiety symptoms; and medium effects on observed maternal positive affect/sensitivity.


This study provides encouraging preliminary support for the Turtle Program for young behaviorally inhibited children. Effects of the Turtle Program generalized to the school setting. Future studies should examine whether this early intervention program improves long-term developmental outcomes for this at-risk group.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center