As children grow, they gradually become more aware of what people think of them. You may wonder if there is a social anxiety issue. There always seems to be a correct thing to say and do—as well as an incorrect choice.
This idea that people may be paying attention to and judging their actions makes many children anxious. Sometimes, this can lead children to develop a condition referred to as social anxiety disorder. This will be diagnosed when the child stops doing the things they need and want to do due to the fear of what others may think.
This disorder most often becomes noticeable in children between the ages of eight and fifteen, and it may take a while for parents or teachers to notice anything is wrong because children are very good at hiding their suffering from social anxiety. They hide it because they may feel ashamed to admit they feel anxious about issues no one else seems to care about.
Here at the Social Skills Center, we are often asked by parents how they can tell if their child has a social anxiety disorder. To answer this, let’s take a look at what this disorder can look like.
Children suffering from social anxiety disorder aren’t just anxious about social situations such as giving speeches or presenting a school project to the class. These social situations aren’t related to social anxiety disorder; instead, this condition involves terror around how other people perceive you.
This extends even to basic interactions, from answering simple questions to talking with friends. These children fear that something they may do or say could cause others to judge them and possibly dislike them.
Although many children feel shy when they meet new people or experience new situations, ordinarily, they will gradually become accustomed to them. Unfortunately, children experiencing social anxiety disorder will not warm up to new situations and people on their own.
Ordinary shyness may cause children difficulty in finding new friends and trying new things to some degree, but in general, these children can get along fine. However, for those suffering from social anxiety disorder, getting along with their peers and functioning in school and even within the family can be extremely difficult.
Specific Examples of Social Anxiety
There are many symptoms that may be present in those with social anxiety disorder, but they can often be hard to detect. Be on the lookout for some of the following behaviors.
- Scared of talking in class
- Fear of having friends over
- Avoiding activities including those in school
- Scared of speaking to other children and/or adults
- Fear of being judged by others
Often, children with a social anxiety disorder will also experience physical symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and stomachaches.
- Quiet and keep to themselves
- Scared of speaking in front of others, including in class
- Only become more withdrawn when encouraged to speak
- Speak softly and/or avoid eye contact
- Scared of taking part in conversations
Teenagers with a social anxiety disorder may also perform poorly in school and have difficulty attending classes. They may even attempt to drop out of school.
Our Online Coaching Sessions for Social Anxiety
It can be difficult to tell if your child is suffering from an anxiety disorder as many children will attempt to hide it. However, armed with the knowledge of what this disorder looks like, there are a number of symptoms you can watch out for. If you do decide your child may be suffering from a social anxiety disorder, the Social Skills Center can help.
Our online coaching sessions can help to address your child’s anxiety and give them the tools and support they need to address it. Also, remember that the most important thing your child has to help them to get through this is you, so stay calm and just be there to support them no matter what they are going through.