Social phobia, often known as social anxiety disorder, is more than just a dread of establishing or connecting with friends. It is essentially defined by a profound fear of being scrutinized or judged by others in social circumstances. Understanding the underlying causes of anxiety in children, educating your child on coping mechanisms, and getting the appropriate anxiety medication for them if necessary, are all ways that parents can provide support.
The Impact of Social Anxiety
The fear of speaking in front of others, reading aloud, being judged by others, offending others, embarrassing oneself, and engaging in conversation with strangers are just a few of the triggers that cause extreme anxiety in children with social anxiety disorder.
Youths who suffer from social anxiety disorder worry a lot in public (school, teams, play dates, tuition, and even family reunions.)
Children who suffer from social anxiety disorder may experience severe distress, which could cause poor academic, social, and other functional outcomes. For fear of negative judgment or embarrassment, children with social anxiety disorder are more likely to avoid participating in activities like sports or other group activities with their peers.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety in Children
The average age at which social anxiety disorder first manifests itself is 13 years old, with ages 8 to 15 accounting for 75% of cases.
The condition can be brought on by a history of social inhibition or shyness from childhood, but it can also be triggered by a traumatic event, such as bullying. The number of Americans who have social anxiety disorder is over 15 million.
A noticeable dread or worry about one or more social situations in which the person may be evaluated by others is the defining characteristic of social anxiety disorder. Examples include interacting with others, being seen by others, and performing in front of people.
Here are some additional signs of social anxiety disorder to watch out for:
- The individual believes that his or her actions or anxiety symptoms will be perceived negatively.
- Social settings invariably cause anxiety or fear in them. In children this can manifest as tantrums, clinging, crying, freezing up, or the inability to speak.
- They avoid or endure social interactions while experiencing strong sensations of fear and anxiety
- The worry or panic is excessive compared to the actual threat
- The fear, worry, and avoidance persist for at least six months.
- Their emotional state causes clinically substantial suffering in the functioning of social, occupational (school), or other spheres
- They have a fear of social gatherings that may occur weeks in advance
- They are overly-attached to familiar individuals
- They experience tantrums when put in social circumstances that make them anxious
- They accuse others for alleged societal shortcomings
- They exhibit physical signs like blushing, beating heart, trembling voice, nausea, and difficulty speaking
How to Support Your Child Who has Anxiety
Naming it is the best first step you can take to help your child deal with it. Children who suffer from social anxiety disorder are aware of their fear and worry in social situations, but they may not always be able to pinpoint the cause. A crucial first step in learning to manage is assisting them in drawing connections between emotional responses, bodily symptoms, and triggers. Teach your child how anxiety affects thought and behavior, as this is a crucial aspect of learning how to deal with difficult emotions.
Be sure to seek a neurological assessment for anxiety treatment, as early intervention is key.