Social Anxiety Disorder and shyness are two different conditions. Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by intense self-consciousness and fear of embarrassment that goes beyond common shyness and is most noticeable between the ages of 8 and 15 years of age. Shyness is the tendency to feel awkward, worried or tense during social encounters, especially with unfamiliar people. While shyness is very common and many young people feel it occasionally, Social Anxiety Disorder can be debilitating, uncontrollable and can lead to isolation and depression and should be treated with child therapy. As a parent, it is important that we be able to contrast the two in order to be helpful because children who struggle with Social Anxiety Disorder will go to great lengths to hide it or mask it. If you sense that your child may be struggling with Social Anxiety Disorder, you can prevent it from taking hold by being attuned to warning signs and symptoms. These questions highlight warning signs:
- Is your child uncomfortable speaking to teachers or peers?
- Does he or she avoid eye contact, mumble or speak quietly when addressed by other people?
- Does your child blush or tremble around other people?
- Does your child cry or throw a tantrum when confronted with new people?
- Does your child express worry excessively about doing or saying something “stupid”?
- Does your child or teen complain of stomachaches and want to stay home from school, field trips or parties?
- Is he or she withdrawing from activities and wanting to spend more time at home?
If you as a parent observe these signs, a doctor or child therapist can help evaluate your child and determine if the disorder is present.
If you feel that your child exhibits Social Anxiety Disorder and you would like to seek the help of an experienced child therapist, then call Positive Kids. We specialize in child therapy programs to help children develop social and emotional skills in the Greater Toronto Area.