Social Anxiety : A Factsheet for Parents and Carers

Social Anxiety in Children: A Factsheet

What is social anxiety? Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by an excessive fear of being embarrassed, judged, or scrutinized in social situations. It can be debilitating and can interfere with daily activities, relationships, and school performance.

Symptoms of social anxiety in children:

  • Avoiding social situations
  • Intense fear or embarrassment in social situations
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, or blushing
  • Negative self-talk and thoughts of inadequacy

What can help children deal with social anxiety?

  1. Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that is effective in treating social anxiety. It helps children recognize and change negative thoughts and behaviors.
  2. Medication: In some cases, medication can be prescribed to help children manage their anxiety.
  3. Relaxation techniques: Breathing exercises, mindfulness, and yoga can help children relax and reduce anxiety.
  4. Social skills training: Children with social anxiety can benefit from learning how to engage in social situations with more confidence.
  5. Support groups: Joining a support group can help children feel less isolated and provide a sense of community.

Examples of effective strategies for children with social anxiety:

  • Practice speaking up in small groups before moving on to larger groups
  • Gradually exposing themselves to situations that trigger anxiety
  • Using positive self-talk to counteract negative thoughts

CBT Treatment

The Social Anxiety Treatment Model developed by Adrian Wells is a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach that aims to help individuals overcome social anxiety disorder (SAD). The model emphasizes the importance of modifying an individual’s thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that contribute to their social anxiety.

The model involves several stages, including:

  1. Assessment: A comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s symptoms, thoughts, and behaviors related to social anxiety.
  2. Psychoeducation: A process of educating the individual about social anxiety, its causes, and effects on their lives.
  3. Thought Challenge: A process of identifying and challenging negative thoughts and beliefs about social situations.
  4. Behavioural Experiment: A process of testing out new behaviors in real-life social situations to help the individual gain a more realistic perspective of their abilities and social situations.
  5. Reattribution: A process of changing negative beliefs about social situations into more positive and realistic beliefs.
  6. Maintenance and Generalization: A process of developing new and more adaptive behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs to help the individual maintain their improvement and generalize it to different social situations.

The Social Anxiety Treatment Model is considered to be an effective approach for treating SAD and has been widely used by mental health professionals.

Tips for parents to help their child with social anxiety:

  1. Be patient and understanding
  2. Encourage them to talk about their feelings
  3. Help them set small, achievable goals
  4. Praise their efforts and progress
  5. Seek professional help if needed

In conclusion, social anxiety can be a difficult and overwhelming experience for children, but with the right support, children can learn to manage their anxiety and build confidence in social situations.