What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by excessive fear or discomfort in social situations where one may be exposed to possible scrutiny or judgment by others. 

People with social anxiety may have an intense fear of being embarrassed, humiliated, or rejected in social situations, such as public speaking, meeting new people, attending social events, or even everyday activities like eating in public or using public restrooms. 

These fears can be so overwhelming that they may interfere with a person’s ability to function in social, academic, or occupational settings and can significantly impact their quality of life.

What are the symptoms of Social Anxiety in children?

Social anxiety in children is like social anxiety in adults, but it manifests in different ways due to their developmental stages. Children with social anxiety may have an excessive fear of being negatively evaluated or rejected by their peers or adults in social situations, such as school, extracurricular activities, or family gatherings.

They may avoid or feel intense anxiety in situations that involve social interaction, such as participating in class, playing with other children, or attending parties. They may also exhibit physical symptoms, such as trembling, blushing, sweating, or upset stomach when faced with social situations or anticipating them.

Children with social anxiety may also have a heightened fear of making mistakes or being wrong, which can lead to excessive self-criticism and self-doubt. This can impact their academic performance, social relationships, and overall well-being.

At what age does social anxiety begin?

Toddlers may experience separation anxiety, but that feeling is connected to that developmental stage and is separate from what professionals dub Social Anxiety. Typically, social anxiety begins between the ages of 8 and 15, when a child’s sense of self begins to develop. It’s also a time when children better understand the world around them, including familial situations. 

What causes Social Anxiety in children?

The National Institute for Health determined several factors in the development of Social Anxiety, but environment and genetics seem to be key causes.

If one or more parents have been diagnosed with anxiety, the child is more likely to inherit the condition.

Additionally, abusive, unstable, and traumatic events in a child’s life can contribute to the disorder. 

How to support and encourage your child with Social Anxiety.

Supporting and encouraging a child with social anxiety can be a challenging task, but there are several strategies you can use to help your child feel more comfortable and confident in social situations:

Validate his feelings: Let your child know that you understand his anxiety and that feeling nervous or anxious in social situations is okay. It’s important for him to know that his feelings are normal and that he’s not alone.

Practice relaxation techniques: Teach your child some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques can help your child calm down when he feels anxious or overwhelmed.

Start small: Encourage your child to start with small social interactions, such as saying hello to a neighbor or asking a classmate a simple question. Gradually increase the level of social interaction as your child becomes more comfortable.

Role-play: Practice social situations with your child, such as introducing himself or making small talk. This can help him feel more confident and prepared for social interactions.

Reward bravery: Encourage and reward your child’s efforts to overcome his social anxiety. For example, if your child can attend a social event that he was nervous about, celebrate his accomplishment with a small reward or treat.

Seek professional help: Consider seeking help from a mental health professional who specializes in treating social anxiety. They can provide additional support and guidance for both you and your child.

Parenting a child with social anxiety can be a challenging and difficult endeavor, but it’s important to remember that there are ways to support and encourage your child. Validating your child’s feelings, teaching relaxation techniques, starting with small social interactions, and rewarding bravery are all effective strategies. 

It’s crucial to remember that your child’s social anxiety is not his fault. There is nothing wrong with him. With your support and guidance, he can learn to manage his anxiety and lead a fulfilling life. 

A Nurturing Environment for Your Child’s Success

Are you struggling with how to support your child with social anxiety in their academic journey? The Broach School understands these challenges, and we’re here to help. Discover a nurturing, supportive environment that fosters confidence and success. Explore enrollment options now.