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Social Anxiety in Children

Social Anxiety in Children

It is normal for kids to be shy at times or in certain occasions. In fact, children have the natural tendency to overcome shyness and develop the confidence slowly to play or socialize with other kids on their own. But what about when you discover your child displaying intense fear in attending to groups of other children in a crowd of other people? What about if he is afraid of even just going to the public bathrooms or simply answering phone calls, or couldn’t handle the sight of a visitor in the home?
Social Anxiety in Children: How to Help a Child with Social Anxiety
These are some of the many issues a lot of parents are facing in their children and young kids. And though Social Anxiety in Children is not as common as any anxiety disorders in children existing today, there are definitely a lot more children affected by it than you can simply imagine. 

This is not an issue anymore that you can afford to take lightly. Ignoring this problem can cause tremendous burden on the part of your child and you in the long run.

Social Anxiety, often called as social phobia is the fear of going out or being with other people. It is reported that children can have this problem to as early as 4 years old. 

Children with this issue are often very dependent upon the parents and trust no one except them and their primary caregivers. They are very anxious about what other people may think of them. They have the constant fear of getting ridiculed or humiliated in the public. They are extremely self-conscious and have persistent thought about being always watched and criticized by others.

This then will result to very poor self-esteem, lack of social skills, getting very low grades at school, isolation of oneself, etc.

When this problem does not receive the attention it needs or not treated right away, it will lead to mental disorders or psychological problems which in some cases are the cause of some suicides among the youth.

Some psychiatrists agree that social anxiety in children can be sometimes acquired genetically, but others are more convinced that the environment where a child lives is the major source of this problem. 

Children are very observant and are naturally sensitive to the things that take place around them. Those children who are raised in an abusive environment or home have the highest percentage of developing social anxiety.

Overprotective parents are also contributing to this problem. Some experiences while away from home can also cause children to withdraw from social life like being ridiculed at school by other kids, bullied, or getting rejected by the peers.

How to Help a Child with Social Anxiety: What Parents can do about it

Social anxiety and shyness are common behavioral conditions that are often misunderstood by many people. While the latter is more natural reaction, social anxiety is more complex and serious problem among children.

The perception of children on the society is narrow and limited to openness because of fears and worries about the outcome of their interactions with the environment. Social anxiety in children has been boundlessly affecting every aspect of their life not only socially but also their capability to maintain a healthy well-being.

When they are anxious, they’re emotional unstable and psychologically disturbed. Controlling their own emotions during their anxiety crisis is difficult to achieve since they have undeveloped defense mechanism to relieve their stress and tensions.

Many children who suffer from social anxiety are not doing well on their academic functionalities. Their performances in school are poor as they are not associating themselves with other children.

Common fears of children like public speaking, talking to superiors, eating in public place or attending to social gatherings are often seen in them. Their avoidance to the public make them feel lonely and incomplete as their social aspect is restricted.

But there are children too who are just simply socially withdrawn not because of fear of scrutiny but because they don’t like to meet new people as it only makes them comfortable in mingling with strangers.

Parents of socially anxious children must help them in initiating the building-up of good relationship between their children and the public. Frequent exposure to the new places where people are used to drop with is a good way to overcome their fears.

At first, it may be difficult for the child to adopt to the new environment but explaining to them the purpose of exposure and socialization may relieve their anxiety. Every parent must understand the feelings of an anxious child since the adjustments takes time and must not done in a hurry manner. Also, encouraging the children about positive thinking towards other people will elicit trust; thus can build a good relationship with them.

To best help the children in treating their anxiety, undergoing a course of treatment with the psychotherapist is good choice. The therapist will assess the child about the cause of his anxiety and what particular situations that could trigger the problem. In this way, a certain test or approach will be applied to manage the anxiety.

One of the most effective ways is the cognitive behavioral therapy wherein the negative thoughts of children are diverted into more positive one by guiding them in building up appropriate social skills that distorts the situations that causes their anxiety. Children are gradually evaluated every now and then to see if there is an improvement with the treatment.

Another way of treating of social anxiety in children is by role modeling wherein a particular situation that causes the anxiety is being played with the therapist followed by a return demonstration to be performed by the child. It is also advised that the involvement of parents with the role playing contribute to the improvement of the treatment course.

Shy Child Social Anxiety: How to Help a Shy Child Socialize

Children should always be happy and make everybody around them feel happy. However, if you feel that your child is not able to enjoy the company of friends and do not socialize easily it can be very disheartening.

If you feel that your child is always clinging on to your skirts or crying very easily you should pay more attention to him. He could be a shy child with social anxiety.

As little children, they may be worried about so many things they see and hear around them. It is for the parent to identify such behaviors and take necessary actions to overcome them.

If the shyness of a child with social anxiety are not overcome they can cause serious damage to the personality of the children. Since they are in the growing stage it will affect their overall development. So parents have to identify such behaviors before they take serious shape and encourage the children to get rid of them.

Whatever is the cause of shyness social anxiety there are different ways of supporting your child. With a steady, composed mind and an easy-going nature you will be able to support your shy child with social anxiety to overcome shyness and anxiety and help him/her socialize.

First of all you need to identify the symptoms. They may not be the same for all the children. So it can be a little tricky to identify the condition.

Some of the symptoms of child anxiety include nightmares, bed-wetting, avoiding certain activities like social events, school, always clinging to one of the parents, panic, worry about future events, being very shy and having no friends, lack of confidence, fear of making mistakes and embarrassments, resistance to changes and recurrence of physical symptoms like headache and stomach-ache.

If you find some of these symptoms in your child you have to be very careful not to aggravate the situation by teasing your child. You have to talk to them politely and make them understand the importance of every occasion and create some interest in them. This will be very helpful to bring some changes in their attitude.

Further, as a family you have to take more efforts to find time and socialize. Healthy interaction will let your child learn so many basic lessons of human interactions which will be very helpful in the long run. 

You should also include your child in trips, activities and sports events with other families. Encourage your child naturally into participating in the activities without forcing them or using the word ‘shy.’ 

Encourage other children to play with your child so that they become friends. Always find time and help them to spend time together. All these will help the child to slowly socialize and get rid of their shyness with social anxiety.

   See also: Anxiety in Children


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