Child Social Anxiety – More than Normal?

Children who are naturally shy can take some time to come out of their shells. But, if your child’s bashfulness seems extreme, it may be something more serious, such as child Social Anxiety Disorder. Children with Social Anxiety Disorder feel a sense of intense self-consciousness and fear of embarrassment that causes them to go to great lengths to avoid social interactions or performing. In Social Anxiety Disorder, these feelings prevent kids from socializing and interacting with peers, leading to other challenging obstacles.

Symptoms of Child Social Anxiety Disorder

Trouble socially interacting with peers and adults for six months is one component of social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder often stems from the fear of performance in from of other and from discomfort around social interactions.  These feelings can result in distress and avoidance, and may can cause physical symptoms like shaking, sweating, or shortness of breath. In many cases, social anxiety disorder has a genetic component, but it can also develop after a stressful or embarrassing experience. For other children, social anxiety disorder develops slowly over time. About 7% of kids have social anxiety disorder, and it affects boys and girls equally.

Performance-related anxiety is normal for everyone. But when it is extreme, children experience uncontrollable fear when the spotlight is on them. A child who loves to dance may have a great time during practice. But during recital, they may always buckle and not be able to perform. Children may also have extreme fear about giving a talk in front of the class. In other social situations, children with social anxiety disorder may have trouble ordering a meal in a restaurant or shopping in a store, because they have an extreme fear about saying or doing the wrong thing.

Social anxiety that is interaction-related may cause children to be afraid to eat in public, use public bathrooms, etc..

It’s important to get a proper diagnosis of child social anxiety disorder. Leaning to manage feelings of anxiety when younger can help that child succeed socially when they grow up. Social anxiety disorder can be effectively addressed in therapy with a child psychologist. Most often clinicians use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based interventions. These techniques help to modify the child’s behavior and address the root of the discomfort.

Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about our services for child social anxiety. Our psychologists provide child therapy for families in San Diego County. We serve the community of Carlsbad, San Diego, Encinitas, San Marcos, Escondido, Rancho Santa Fe, Oceanside, Vista, and surrounding areas in San Diego North County.

About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

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