Social Anxiety in Children

by Sharon Hopkins

Social anxiety disorder in children is also known as social phobia wherein the child is afraid of new social situations, activities requiring them to perform in front of others, etc. Extreme social anxiety in children may also result in them having panic attacks. There are two major factors that contribute to the development of social anxiety disorder in children. These are :

  • Genetics: Research has shown that children who have at least one parent diagnosed with an anxiety disorder will also develop the same which may not necessarily manifest itself in the form of social anxiety. In such cases the child will grow to be very reclusive and silent as well as timid or fearful of new situations or places.
  • Environment: Social anxiety disorder in children may also be on account of the environment in which the child is being raised or is exposed to. Social anxiety in children is observed in those children who are victims of abandonment, physical or verbal abuse , public failure , speech defect or even have a disfiguring physical condition.

Symptoms in Children

The key to overcoming social anxiety in children is to first correctly identify if the child is just shy or is actually suffering from social anxiety disorder. Some of the common social anxiety symptoms in children are:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Regular complaints of stomach aches or any other illness so as to avoid going to school
  • Severe anxiety at the time of examinations or any public event.
  • Spending excessive amounts of time playing computer games and not socializing much with friends or even family
  • Throwing tantrums, crying or even clinging on to the parent.
  • Minimal to no conversation at school

Children Treatment

Cognitive behavior treatment is known to be one of the most effective treatment options for dealing with children suffering from social anxiety. This treatment is effective in dealing with social anxiety as it focuses on changing the thoughts of the child which tend to result in them be overly shy and withdrawn. Some of the components of cognitive therapy include:

  • Relaxation and meditation techniques including visualization
  • Providing parental and family support wherein the parents are encouraged to become partners in their child's treatment.
  • Group therapy wherein children of the same age groups are invited to interact and thereby provide first hand narrations of how they deal with various social situations.



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