Social anxiety disorder, also recognized as social phobia can develop from a very young age. 40% of cases develop between the ages of 0 to 10. A staggering 95% of social anxiety cases are found in people under 20. Often social anxiety is seen as shyness or timidness and is frequently under recognized or neglected by parents and teachers.
From birth babies are given constant attention from their family and relatives. Even as a baby we can feel shy and unwilling to be cuddled by someone we know. From a young age babies become more self-aware and inhibited. Soon enough they become toddlers and face new obstacles ahead. Now they’re making friends with other children and they begin to engage in peer to peer social relationships.
For a shy or timid child it can be a daunting experience to be surrounded by unfamiliar children. The confident children might also assume leadership in groups and shun away the weaker children. Rejection can occur repeatedly and some children may face being an outcast.
In their teens, shy children struggle to find social acceptance, they become bullied and teased at by other children. Over time they become more introvert and unassertive. Children are barraged daily with criticism and disapproval by teachers and parents. Studies show that children are criticized twice as much as they are praised. It’s no wonder some children feel inadequate and are afraid of performing in front of others.
They might experience extreme anxiousness and fear being ridiculed and embarrassed in social situations. In many cases they fall behind academically in school. Children with social anxiety find it difficult to make friends and build relationships. They might spend most of their time alone at school and in their bedroom when at home.
To their parents they might be seen as shy and something that they grow out of and even a part of puberty. However in most cases they don’t and this can become an even bigger problem in adulthood. As adults they face having to socialize at parties, work side by side with colleagues and assume more responsibility in life.
Growing into adults they remain insecure and have difficulty meeting people. Adults may turn to alcohol as a means to help relieve symptoms and inhibitions. Sadly, those with social anxiety disorder are at an increased risk of suicide and drug abuse. Teachers and parents who suspect a child has this disorder should seek social anxiety treatment as soon as possible.