Could excessive shyness in your child be Social Phobia?


I am still behind with Blogtober17, we have a bug in house, first Finlay, yesterday Emmie and yesterday I woke with it. I am going to power through though. To help me I am going to combine the two topics of Old Photos and Phobias. I have spoken briefly about suffering with anxiety and I even touched upon having anxiety as a child. Well, when I was looking through my old photos I came across the one above. It’s our family holiday when I was about 4. I don’t remember much of it but everyone looks pretty happy apart from me. And I remembered, the sheer terror I was feeling. You can just make it out in my frown, my wide eyes and holding tightly onto my own hands. I was petrified. There were so many people in this room (I think it may have been a Haven Entertainment evening). Even at such a young age I believe I may have been suffering from Social Phobia.


Social Phobia is more than just shyness. It is defined as “a disorder that is characterized by intense self-consciousness and fear of embarrassment that goes beyond common shyness, causing a child to go to great lengths to avoid social interactions”


Signs of Social Phobia in Children:

Anxious Toddlers has 30 signs of Social Anxiety in Children, Some of which include, but not limited to:


~ excessively worries they might say something or do something embarrassing

~ Has a hard time talking to kids and other adults

~ Doesn’t talk to anyone except close family

~ Hard time separating

~ Feels too anxious to read out loud in class or raise their hand to answer questions

~ Fears new situations

~ Speaks softly to new people

~ Plays alone

~ Gets self conscious when appearance changes ie haircut

~ Feels overwhelmed in large social situations

~ Struggles to eat in front of people, especially when not at home


Looking back, I would tick all the boxes for Social Phobia. However 30 odd years ago very little would have been known about the condition. Too everyone looking in, including my parents I was just ‘painfully Shy’. It never helped that everyone thought it was good for me to be forced into things I didn’t want to do ‘to get me out of my shell’. Then when I would throw a full blown tantrum, I was just being oppositional. Growing up was extremely difficult for me and in some respects, I think I still may have it. I think a lot of my diagnosed generalised anxiety stems from my anxiety of social situations. Perhaps when I next pluck up the courage to see the doctor I will bring this up!


Now I’m not saying just because your child is really shy, they might have Social Phobia, some children are just naturally very shy. What I am saying is, if they seem excessively shy and exhibit some behaviours that raise concerns, then do speak to your doctor. Don’t force your shy child to do things they are uncomfortable with as it can make the situation much worse. However, do offer support and together encourage your child to push their boundaries.



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