Childhood Social Anxiety/ Social Phobias

Childhood social anxiety and social phobias can be one of the most crippling experiences for a young person. Typically these children struggle with appropriate interaction and are excluded from normal social play. The target of bullying also has fear interacting with peers due to the potential rejection. This experience is extremely difficult for children, and can also lead to extensive sadness and depression.

As a parent, watching your child struggle with social anxiety is absolutely heartbreaking. Watching your child struggle without friends, and fear interacting with their peers is extremely difficult.

With children, Social anxiety and Social Phobias affects .5% to 5% of school-aged children and as children become adolescents’ the number affected increases to 7%-10%. I believe the number of people affected to be higher because not everyone receives help, and many struggle in silence and isolation.

Child social anxiety and social phobias directly affects family interaction. Many times parents plan ahead of time to avoid a possible occurrence of anxiety, avoid visiting anxiety provoking locations, as well as limit the family’s participation of certain activities in an effort to reduce their child’s anxiety. These accommodations are normal because, parents try their best to keep their child comfortable and happy.

Social situations are terrifying for these children. Children with social anxiety and social phobia’s typically struggle with making and keeping friends. They have difficulty speaking in an age appropriate manner and usually feel more comfortable interacting with younger peers or much older peers, and even adults.

Typical Situations that trigger social anxiety/social phobias are:

  • Meeting new people
  • Being the center of attention
  • Being watched while doing something
  • Making small talk
  • Public speaking
  • Performing on stage
  • Being teased or criticized
  • Being called on in class
  • Going on a date
  • Making phone calls
  • Using public bathrooms
  • Taking exams
  • Eating or drinking in public
  • Speaking up in a meeting
  • Attending parties or other social gatherings
  • Talking with “important” people or authority figures

Typical emotional responses these children experience are one or a combination of the following: fear of judgment by others, fear of being embarrassed, and extensive worrying about upcoming events minutes, days, weeks in advance. Noticeable physical symptoms are one or a combination of the following: blushing, butterflies in their stomach (upset stomach and nausea), sweating, feeling dizzy, trembling voice, racing heart rate, and shortness of breath. Behavioral indicators are one or a combination of the following: avoiding social situations, typically staying quiet and staying in the background, not attending an event unless a friend or buddy will be present.

If your child is struggling with these difficulties, there is hope. Troy can assist by using a combination of approaches such as coaching the child through tough social situation, role-playing appropriate responses, as well as using real life scenarios allowing the child to build confidence in their abilities to interact with peers, thus reducing their anxiety. In addition, Troy will also teach parents strategies they can use to assist their children reach success! Troy has 6 years of experience working with children with Social Anxiety/Social Phobias and has help many children reach their social goals. Contact the Success Source and we can help your child this week!