Anxiety Disorders in Children
A child with social phobia feels severe anxiety and self-consciousness in normal, everyday, social situations. This is more than just shyness.
The socially anxious child is terrified that he will embarrass himself when talking with classmates, answering a question in class, or doing other normal activities that involve interacting with others.
This fear can keep your child from participating in school and activities. Some children may even find themselves unable to talk at all in some situations.
What Can You Do?
Mental health professionals today understand much more about childhood anxiety disorders than in the past. No matter what your child's anxiety disorder is, you should be able to find a professional therapist who can help. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has many resources, including self-help publications, support groups, treatment guides, and a therapist search tool.
You can also help your child at home by being supportive and understanding.
- If your child becomes upset and anxious, stay calm as you talk him through it.
- Don't punish your child for things like mistakes on schoolwork or lack of progress.
- "Catch" him doing well: Praise even small accomplishments, and be specific.
- Plan for transitions. If your child's anxiety means going to school in the morning is very stressful, allow plenty of extra time.
- While respecting your child's privacy, do give her teachers and coaches information they need to help them understand what's going on.
Above all, be available to listen when your child wants to talk to you about his anxiety. Kids with anxiety disorders often try to hide their fears because they think you won't understand. So let your child know you're ready to listen whenever he's ready to talk.