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Social Phobia in Children

AMBULATORY CARE:

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.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • 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

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your child feels like hurting himself, herself, or others.
  • Your child has trouble breathing, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.
  • Your child has a seizure.

Call your child's doctor or therapist if:

  • 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.

Treatment

may include any of the following:

  • Medicines help decrease anxiety and help your child feel calm and relaxed. Medicines are usually used along with therapy or other treatments.
  • Behavior therapies help your child understand feelings, learn to control actions, and improve 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 or her behavior by looking at the results of certain actions. 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 anxiety until your child can control the 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 or she may also learn how to accept praise and ask questions.
  • Cognitive therapy helps your child learn which thoughts bring anxiety. It can help him or her change these thoughts to make them more positive. Cognitive therapy may also help your child deal with conflict in a healthy way. He or she may learn how to feel more in control.

Help your child manage his or her 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 social skills. Help him or her face fears and develop ways of coping.
  • 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 or she may be more likely to face fears if he or she sees that you can.

Follow up with your child's doctor or therapist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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 (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.