Anxiety disorder in children is on the rise. It mostly spikes during the school years. And, parents can do a lot to help the children overcome the challenges related to this disorder.

It may not be easy to identify an anxious kid because all the behaviors associated with anxiety appear to be unrelated. Though pre-schoolers tend to show some symptoms of this disorder, it is typically found in older children and adolescents.

But it is always better to diagnose this disorder at the earliest and help him overcome the challenges. Parents can closely observe the child’s daily activities to find out if he is suffering from this disorder. Anxiety makes it difficult for a kid to focus, function and socialize within the family.


Parental Support can Minimize Social Anxiety in Children 

A 2018 study suggests that the quality of bonding between a child and his parents can predict anxiety in children. For the research, the academics collected data of a long-term study that observed 250 teenagers, belonging to two-parent families, for seven years.

During the study, the researchers found that parents can raise a confident teen with timely interventions. The academics described a parent as an “instrumental source of support” during adolescence.

It is quite natural for pre-teens and teens to get disconnected with their parents. It is part of a growth process that will help them develop into an independent individual. But the parents must continue to be the primary influencers. It will make the child to confidently face the challenges, said lead researcher Ashley Ebbert.


How to identify a socially anxious child?

An anxious kid may showcase some of the below-mentioned symptoms:

  • Anxious children will always respond differently to various events and triggers.
  • They are often very obedient and quiet in preschool or school.
  • They may not talk about their worries and fears.
  • Socially anxious children are withdrawn or shy.
  • They have a limited number of friends.
  • They have difficulty joining in groups or meeting other children.
  • An anxious kid will never be excited about going to school.
  • A child with anxiety will isolate himself from social interactions.
  • An anxious child appears to be sad, overwhelmed and clingy. They can burst into tears without any reason.
  • A kid with anxiety can feel overwhelmed and exhausted due to frequent meltdowns.
  • Intense anger and irritability are often linked to this disorder.
  • Children with anxiety will even suffer from poor concentration.
  • A kid with anxiety always feels insecure.


Physical Signs of Social Anxiety 

There are also several physical signs related to social anxiety in children. They are:

  • Trembling
  • Blushing
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained pains
  • Muscle aches
  • Frequent headaches
  • Stomach pains
  • Dizziness
  • Racing heart
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

Causes of social anxiety in children

The reasons for this mental disorder also differ depending on various factors, including the social and biological background of a child. For example, a kid who has an anxious parent could experience anxiety at an early stage in life. The common triggers of this disorder are mentioned below:

  • Children can inherit anxiety from their parents
  • Several internal and external pressures from the adults around them can also make a child anxious.
  • Children can learn to be anxious from the adults in their lives.
  • Children who have experienced bullying, such as cyberbullying, may develop anxiety symptoms.
  • New schools, new homes, and even new teachers could trigger an anxious child.
  • Death of a pet, divorce, death of a loved one can result in symptoms of anxiety.
  • Children who experience domestic violence or child abuse or who have witnessed other violence at home may develop an anxiety disorder.


How to help an anxious child?

Children with social anxiety will need the support of the elders around them. A lot of things can be done at home to help a child suffering from anxiety.

Strategies to help an anxious child include:

  • Talk to the kid about his anxious feelings.
  • Prepare the child to deal with his fears and worries. Act out the situation at home to make him feel better.
  • Practice detective thinking.
  • Never let the child avoid social situations. It will make the problem worse.
  • Encourage them to interact with other kids and help them take part in new activities.
  • Avoid scolding, punishing or even forcing the children in front of others. Gently encourage them and give them time to prepare for such situations.
  • Avoid discussions about anxiety in front of the kid.
  • Inform the educators and caretakers about his anxiety. It will help the child get consistent support.
  • Encourage the child in overcoming his anxiety. Praise him for the brave step, but do it quietly. It will help the child foster his self-esteem.


Why is it important to seek treatment for social anxiety in children?

When children are socially anxious, they are afraid of interacting with other people. They worry about the person’s reaction as they don’t like to disappoint anybody.

Social anxiety can also prevent children from making lasting friendships and joining in everyday activities like parties and classroom discussions.

Socially anxious children can even become addicted to social networking sites in the future, according to Dr. Michael Rich from Boston Children’s Hospital.


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