Social Phobia In Children

What is social phobia?

Social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, is a condition that causes a strong fear of and anxiety about social situations. Your child may have a social phobia of public speaking or performing in front of others.

What increases my child's risk for social phobia?

The cause of social phobia is not known. Any of the following may increase your child's risk:

  • A family member with social phobia or other anxiety disorder

  • Parents' behavior in social situations

  • Parents who overprotect, demand a lot, or judge harshly

  • Your child's temperament

What are the signs and symptoms of social phobia?

  • Blushing, redness, sweating, or dry mouth

  • Shaky voice or being unable to speak

  • Crying, shaking, or trembling

  • Fast or pounding heartbeat

  • Stomachache, nausea, or diarrhea

  • Problem focusing on a task

  • Tantrums and being easily angered

How is social phobia diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask you and your child about his fears, worries, and behavior. Tell him about your child's signs and symptoms. He may ask if any family members have an anxiety disorder. He may ask if your child is involved at school and if he has friends.

How is social phobia treated?

  • Medicines help decrease anxiety and help your child feel calm and relaxed.

  • Behavioral therapies help your child understand his feelings, learn how to control his actions, and improve his behavior. Your child may go to therapy alone, with family, or with a group of other children. Your child may learn how to change his behavior by looking at the results of his actions. Good behaviors will be rewarded and encouraged, while unwanted behaviors will be discouraged. Behavior therapy may include any of the following:

    • Exposure, or desensitization, therapy helps your child face a feared object or situation in a controlled setting. During this therapy, your child is slowly placed in contact with the feared object or situation. The goal of this therapy is to help decrease his anxiety until he can control his fear.

    • Relaxation therapy includes exercises to calm your child's body and mind. The goal is to decrease your child's stress.

    • Social skills training teaches your child how to get along with other people. Training may include teaching your child to maintain eye contact and smile. He may also learn how to accept praise and ask questions.

  • Cognitive therapy helps your child learn which thoughts bring anxiety. It can help him change these thoughts to make them more positive. Cognitive therapy may also help your child deal with conflict in a healthy way. He may learn how to feel better about himself and feel more in control of his life.

How can I help my child with social phobia?

  • Learn more about social phobia. Ask your child's healthcare provider for books or other information about social phobia. Work with your child's teacher to help your child in school.

  • Encourage your child to socialize. Help your child develop his social skills. Help him face his fears and develop ways of coping. Praise and reward your child.

  • Be a positive role model for your child. If you struggle with anxiety, learn ways to control it. Your child learns from watching your behavior. He may be more likely to face his fears if he sees that you can.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child is not eating well or eats more than usual.

  • Your child is not sleeping well or sleeps more than usual.

  • Your child's symptoms are getting worse.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your child feels like hurting himself or others.

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

  • Your child has a seizure.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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