It’s not abnormal for children to be shy or even a bit nervous in social situations. The world is still new and they’re still learning appropriate ways to interact with others—especially adults.
But it’s important to understand the difference between a shy child and one with social anxiety.
We often think of social anxiety as something that only plagues adults, but kids can experience it too. Unfortunately, it often goes undiagnosed. So, the anxiety continues to build well into their teen years, and even into adulthood.
The signs of social anxiety in children tend to vary by age. But there are a few key things you should look out for when it comes to how your child behaves when faced with social situations.
1. They Hate Being the Center of Attention
Some kids don’t mind being in the spotlight. But if your child is dealing with social anxiety, knowing they might have everyone’s attention can cause a lot of fear. Whether it’s giving a presentation or even talking on the phone with someone, knowing they can’t really hide away from that focus can be overwhelming.
2. They Only Have a Few Friends
It’s common for children with social anxiety to limit their circle of friends. Maybe they only have one or two good friends and tend to avoid hanging out with larger groups or circles.
3. They Don’t Want to Meet New People
One of the reasons a child with social anxiety doesn’t typically have a lot of friends is because they have a hard time meeting new people. They also often don’t want to get involved in groups.
If you’ve tried to sign your child up for activities or playgroups and they expressed how much they don’t want to be involved, they could be struggling with social anxiety.
4. They Seem Withdrawn
If your child actually seems withdrawn or shy, it’s important to note just how much of an impact it has on their lives. Being shy is okay and normal for many children. But, if they are totally withdrawing from interacting and contact with others seems to cause them actual fear, they could be dealing with something more serious.
5. They Are Very Quiet
Many times, when children reach an age where they can freely communicate, it’s hard to get them to stop talking!
But when your child is dealing with social anxiety disorder, they’ll often be very quiet. They’ll prefer keeping to themselves rather than engaging in conversation. And when they’re encouraged to talk and communicate, they might even become more withdrawn.
6. They Avoid Eye Contact
Nonverbal cues can also signal that your child has social anxiety. If they avoid eye contact when talking or they don’t have many facial expressions while speaking, they could be working through a lot of fear.
It’s normal to get nervous about speaking up in some situations. But, if your child’s nonverbal cues indicate that they’re anxious when faced with those situations, they might be experiencing social anxiety.
7. They Don’t Talk About Themselves
Many kids love talking about themselves. They can’t wait to tell you what they did in school, what’s going on with their friends, or about their accomplishments, etc.
But children facing social anxiety often have a very hard time talking about themselves. Even if you ask specific questions or try to get them to open up, they might seem nervous and uncomfortable and show some of the other symptoms touched on in this list.—
If your child shows any of these above-mentioned signs, it’s important to get an official diagnosis to determine whether they have social anxiety. Therapeutic treatment can help them to cope with anxiety symptoms and alleviate the effects of anxiety they deal with each day.
Please contact us if you’re looking for more information, or you’re wondering if your child might be suffering from social anxiety.