Maybe your child has been having trouble making friends. Or perhaps their teacher has let you know that they’ve been reluctant to participate in school, and they’re concerned about how this could affect their academic future. You might have even noticed that your child has been complaining about physical health ailments lately. These problems always seem to crop up in connection to social events or gatherings.
All of these signs could point to your child having a social anxiety disorder. Some parents may chalk these issues up to temporary shyness that will pass on its own, but social anxiety disorders can look similar at first — and they can be much more serious in the long run. Here are three common signs of social anxiety in kids.
1. Your Child Tries to Stay Isolated
No matter the circumstances, your child seems to prefer being alone to being around people. When family comes over for the holidays, they might try to stay in their room for as long as possible. If another parent says they can come over for a play date with a classmate, your child will usually refuse to go. They don’t express much interest in extracurricular activities like sports, However, situations in which they might be the center of attention tend to spark the most fear. If your child learns that they will have to speak in front of their class for a presentation or other academic activity, they may spiral into a full-blown panic the night before.
This anxiety can also extend to basic social interactions. If you’ve tried to encourage your child to order for themselves at a restaurant, they may have shrunk back in embarrassment. Should you bump into someone you know in public, your child might try to hide behind you. Any form of social interaction becomes fraught with anxiety.
2. Physical Symptoms
Social anxiety can lead to physical stress, so if your child is suffering from this condition, they may genuinely feel ill. Your child might be having trouble falling asleep, or they may wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares. Their poor sleep schedule leaves them exhausted during the day, which only makes them feel more irritable and anxious. Your child may not have much of an appetite because they feel nauseous when they’re faced with social situations. They may even tremble or shake when they’re around other people. Sometimes, your child might say that they feel dizzy, or even like they’re about to faint.
Perhaps you’ve tried to find the cause of their symptoms, only to come up empty-handed. This does not mean they are “faking sick.” The physical aches and pains that can accompany social anxiety are very real.
3. Behavioral Issues Connected to Social Events
You thought that your child had grown out of tantrums. But suddenly, it seems like they’ve been regressing. Yet when you think about it, these tantrums or other behavioral issues don’t just spring up out of nowhere. Your child typically acts out before they’re expected to socialize in some way, or even before they have to go to school.
They aren’t doing this to frustrate you on purpose, or because they feel like being defiant. In reality, they’re struggling with anxiety, and they don’t know how to put these feelings into words, nor do they have a healthy outlet for these overwhelming emotions. Essentially, they engage in these behaviors because they’re scared, and they’re trying to express it.
Have noticed potential symptoms of social anxiety in your child? They may benefit from working with a therapist. Contact us to learn more about our child therapy services.