Social Phobia In Children


  • Social phobia (SP), also called social anxiety disorder, is a common anxiety problem seen in school-aged children. Older children and adolescents (teenagers) with SP have a phobia (strong, ongoing fear) of being in social situations. This may be a situation where your child has contact with people or when he must perform in public. Your child may be very shy, quiet, and self-conscious around other people, even those he knows. Younger children may get selective mutism (not talking) where they cannot talk at all in social situations. Your child feels very uncomfortable in settings where he meets new people or might be judged by others. He fears that he will do or say something that will embarrass himself. Common fears include speaking in public, reading aloud, eating or writing in public, or playing sports or music.

  • Your child's caregiver will need information about your child's health history and family history of having anxiety problems. He may want to know about your child's behavior, such as at school and in social activities. He will need to know about your child's fears and worries, and what makes them worse. He will assess all of these in looking for signs and symptoms of SP. Tests may be done to check if your child's symptoms are caused by medical conditions. Behavioral (how one acts) and other therapies, and medicines may be used to treat your child's SP. With treatment, your child's social phobia may be relieved and his quality of life improved. Getting treatment is important to prevent him from having worse problems from SP when he is an adult.


Ask for more information about where and when to take your child for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services for your child, ask for information.


  • Keep a current list of your child's medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.

  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.

Medicine monitoring:

Your child's caregiver will watch how your child responds to his medicines. Tell your child's caregiver about unwanted side effect or problems your child may be having with his medicines. Sometimes the kind and amount of medicines your child is taking may need to be changed. The goal is for the medicines to work well, and have the least amount of side effects. Your child's caregiver will also talk about how long your child may need to take his medicines.

Working with your child:

  • Be a positive role model for your child. Learn ways to control your own anxiety. Your child learns from watching your behavior. He may be more likely to face his fears if he sees that you can do it. Be careful that your actions do not support or strengthen your child's social phobia behavior. These actions may include you avoiding anxiety-causing situations or drinking alcohol to control your anxiety. Talk to your child's caregiver if you are having trouble controlling your own anxiety.

  • Encourage your child to socialize. Help your child develop his social skills. Help him face his fears and develop ways of coping, such as thinking about other things. Praise and reward your child when needed.

  • Learn more about social phobia. You can read and visit websites about SP. The more you know about your child's condition, the better you can help him. Work with your child's teacher to help your child in school. You can also read books and find other guidance on how to manage your child's anxiety.


  • You and your child cannot make it to your next meeting with his caregiver.

  • Your child has problems with eating or is eating more than usual.

  • Your child is not able to sleep well or is sleeping more than usual.

  • Your child's social phobia is getting worse or he is having new signs or symptoms of mental health problems.

  • You have questions or concerns about social phobia or your child's treatment.


  • Your child feels like hurting himself or others.

  • Your child has trouble breathing, chest pains, or a fast heartbeat.

  • Your child just had a seizure (convulsion).

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Social Phobia In Children (Aftercare Instructions)