Addressing social anxiety in children

Social anxiety in children is more common than anyone really wants to admit as a problem. Symptoms of this condition can present as early as one year of age. The first sign in most children who suffer from this condition is a distinct disinterest in exploring new things in the world around them.

Preschool children with social anxiety show a lot of shyness when dealing with people outside of their immediate family circles. They may even have a hard time making themselves understood at all by these strangers and/or casual acquaintances. A surprising number of these children suffer with speech or language problems in addition to their social struggles.

Common Sources of Anxiety for Children Who Suffer from Social Anxiety

There are some situations that are perfectly normal for the average child that are especially excruciating for children with social anxiety. These situations are often considered rites of passage or even sources of fun and accomplishment in other children. That makes it even more painful for the children with this condition.
Common things like reading aloud in front of their classmates, performing in any capacity, attending birthday parties, or even talking to adults can trigger a massive panic response in these children. Social anxiety can also manifest in other ways like being unable to ask teachers for help or having trouble eating around other children in a school cafeteria or answering the telephone when it rings.

How do Kids Cope with their Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety in children is different than it is with adults and teenagers. As we grow older, we are better prepared to put words to what’s going on and have an idea about what symptoms we may be experiencing. Children, on the other hand, aren’t always able to put their feelings into words. Even if they could, however, the thought of discussing these feelings with an adult outside the family (one who might truly recognize the symptoms of social anxiety in children) would be almost unthinkable.
For the most part, kids who suffer from this condition pretend to be ill in uncomfortable situations. Others will simply cry. The real problem with social anxiety when it comes to children is that it forces them to be loners to some degree – whether they want to be or not.

Most children want to fit in and be accepted more than anything else in the world. But the children who suffer from this particular condition have a very difficult time making and keeping friends. In fact, a recent study shows that more than 75% of children with social anxiety have very few, if any, friends.
Some of them even disliked school to the point that they refused to attend and were home schooled.

Overcoming Social Anxiety Disorder for Children

The numbers for children who suffer from social anxiety disorder in general aren’t very pretty numbers. This is a lonely and isolating condition for children to suffer through. Unfortunately, not all children who have this condition come from loving and supportive families that are willing to support them through it.

Even those who do have a solid support system at home often feel misunderstood and out of place – even among their own family. But there is hope for those who receive treatment early and consistently. Some of these children eventually overcome their own social anxiety and are able to function normally as they grow. However, most will always have some lingering effects of this condition into adulthood. They simply learn how to cope or live with it and still function in the world.

Treatments of social anxiety in children are generally limited to behavior modification and a few medications. The most effective treatments tend to be a combination of medication and behavioral treatments.

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