Parent’s Guide To Recognize And Manage Social Anxiety Disorder In Children

Last Update on November 6, 2023 : Published on November 9, 2023
Understanding And Overcoming Social Anxiety Disorder In Children

A lot of parents asked or questioned about their children’s shyness, clinging, fear of new things, or fear of talking or reading aloud… At the same time a lot of parents asked, if it is possible for children to have social anxiety disorder in childhood.

Well, psychologically, yes, social anxiety disorder can develop at any age. And, yes, social anxiety disorder in children is a real thing. Many parents usually ignore the signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder in children due to various stigmas.

Many children are living with social anxiety disorder without even receiving a diagnosis or treatment. Do you know that social anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental health disorders?

In this blog, we will be deep diving into what is a social anxiety disorder in children, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and more. So, let’s get started! 

What is Social Anxiety Disorder in Children? 

Social anxiety disorder in children is not only about shyness or making new friends, but it’s also about interactions, making eye contact, and responding to the questions asked in the class confidently.

Psychologically, a social anxiety disorder in children is characterized by an intense fear of the social state of conditions wherein the child often struggles with the fear of being judged, humiliated, scrutinized, or stared at by others.

Children with this condition often struggle with anxiety which can be triggered by speaking or reading in front of the class, fear of being assessed by others, fear of being seated in the front row, or fear of communicating with strangers, teachers, friends, or other family members.

Children experiencing social anxiety disorder often face anxiety in a lot of social situations such as teams, play dates, picnics, family reunions, teams, and parties. Such a social disorder can have negative impacts on the overall quality of life.

For example, a child with social anxiety disorder might lack self-confidence, social relationships, and others. Social anxiety disorder in children is a treatable mental health disorder with the help of psychotherapy and medications and parents’ support by understanding more about the disorder.  

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder in Children 

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder in children vary according to the different age groups. If you think your children or loved ones might be struggling with social anxiety disorder, it’s important to understand their triggers and behaviors.

In some cases, it might be possible that the symptoms coincide with symptoms of other common mental health disorders such as seasonal affective disorder.

Therefore, while watching out for symptoms constantly try to recognize them so that you can help your child or loved one to seek further evaluation or the right diagnosis.

Below listed are some of the common yet important symptoms of social anxiety in children according to different age groups: 

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder in Preschool Children 

  • Fear of playing with new toys or strangers
  • Constant whining, crying, or irritability 
  • Clinging or freezing 
  • Constantly refuses to engage in new activities in front of other family members or strangers

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder in School-Aged Children 

  • A constant fear of answering in class or reading books aloud
  • Fear of talking to teachers or other kids
  • Fear of being seated in the first row of the class 
  • Fear of speaking to adults or strangers 
  • Fear of participating in athletic or performance-based activities 
  • Fear of speaking in public 
  • Fear of going to public places such as restaurant 
  • Fear of birthday parties 
  • Inability to visit friends or have friends visit at home
  • Constantly worries about being judged by others 
  • Unable to participate in scholar and co-curricular activities 

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder in Teens 

If you have a teenager struggling with social anxiety disorder, it’s important to notice the signs. You may notice that signs of social anxiety disorder in teens have disadvantages in all aspects of life. For example, they may poorly perform at school or have fewer close friends. Additionally, teenagers with SAD may drop out of school or refuse to attend school due to fear of being judged or fear of being in the spotlight. Moreover, underdiagnosed social anxiety disorder in teenagers may result in suicidal ideation, substance abuse, eating disorders, or depression. 

  • Quiet personality 
  • Needs personal space 
  • Socially withdrawn 
  • Hesitant 
  • Passive
  • Fear of being judged or negatively evaluated by others 
  • Fear of being humiliated or embarrassed in public 
  • Constantly cross their arms
  • Only a few facial expressions seen 
  • Constantly fidgets or twirls followed by nervousness 
  • Poor performance in school or work 
  • Unable to respond to teachers or questions asked during the class 
  • Avoids classmates publicly 
  • Unable to experience the spotlight 
  • Social withdrawal such as having no friends in school
  • Always sits alone 
  • Unable to seek support from teachers or other students in the class 
  • Afraid to walk into the class late 
  • No interest in attending school regularly 
  • Becomes uncomfortable in group settings 
  • Few close friends 
  • Unable to participate in conversations in a group setting 
  • Afraid to ask for help from others 
  • Constantly avoids eye contact 
  • Mumbles or speaks very softly or slowly 
  • Does not easily reveal personal information while talking to others 

Physical Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder in Children 

  • Blushing 
  • Trembling or sweating 
  • Headache 
  • Shaky voice 
  • Stomach ache 
  • Nausea 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Chest pain or tightness 
  • Chills 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Dizziness 
  • Derealization Palpitations (heart pounding) 
  • Muscle tension 
  • Shortness of breath 

Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder in Children 

The causes of social anxiety disorder in children are the same as in adults. Research shows that social anxiety disorder may develop due to genetic factors, societal factors, biological factors, or environmental factors.

Generally, the cause of social anxiety disorder is a combination of different factors. While receiving a diagnosis, a mental health professional is likely to discuss possible contributing factors to social anxiety disorder.

After getting a diagnosis, it’s important to learn how to support a child in managing symptoms and recovery. 

Diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder in Children 

Diagnosis of social anxiety in children and teenagers involves the same process as social anxiety disorder in adults. It generally involves a detailed evaluation of symptoms in different contexts which can vary according to the symptoms.

The evaluation of pre-scholars and school-going children is mostly based on the evaluation of the perspective of teachers and parents. The evaluation may also involve the school records.

If the parents or teachers interpret the symptoms around shyness, social anxiety disorder may go undetected because social anxiety disorder in children depends more on early intervention or detection to prevent long-term consequences of social anxiety. 

Along with the evaluation, the mental health professional also will explore other possible underlying mental health conditions revolving around behaviors or triggers such as bullying, unknown fears, self-harm, suicidal ideations, and others. Students with self-harm or suicidal ideation are treated as a priority. 

Moreover, diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder are always used the same as adults in cases of teenagers and children. However, depending on the severity of children, a mental health professional may use some additional caveats. Since children and teenagers are not able to recognize the reasons behind their fear and anxiety, parents or caregivers need to identify the issues, triggers, and behavior.

Additionally, if you’re a teenager or child reading this blog, the Calm Sage team strongly recommends you interact with your peers, communicate your issues, and connect with a mental health professional. 

Additionally, always connect with a registered and experienced mental health professional for the right diagnosis and treatment approach. 

To connect with a registered mental health professional through online platforms, click below:


Great for a large network of licensed therapists

  • $60 to $90/week, billed every 4 weeks

  • Therapy via messaging, phone, or live video chat

  • Flexible cancellation at any time

20% off your first month


Great for CBT Based therapists

  • $40/week, billed every 4 weeks

  • Therapy via messaging, phone, or live video chat

  • Specialization for CBT based Therapy

20% off your first month


Best for Treatment Plants

  • $60 to $90/week, billed every 4 weeks

  • Therapy via messaging, phone, or live video chat

  • Flexible cancellation at any time

$100 off your first month with code SPACE

Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder in Children 

Coming forth to the treatment process, treatment approach, or process for children diagnosed with social anxiety disorder is to help alleviate symptoms associated with anxiety and to allow students to learn healthy coping techniques for improving school performance and regular functioning. Generally, psychotherapy is prescribed to treat social anxiety however in some severe cases, medications are also prescribed. 


Medications are prescribed to treat some specific symptoms such as depression, suicidal ideation, and anxiety. Some of the common medications prescribed for treating social anxiety disorder in children are Zoloft and Prozac. 


Psychotherapy is one of the most effective treatment techniques used for treating social anxiety disorder. Psychotherapy helps in alleviating symptoms and teaches healthy coping techniques for disorder management. Below are some of the commonly used psychotherapy techniques for treating social anxiety disorder: 

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for kids 
  2. Family therapy 
  3. Social skills training 

Parent’s Guide to Offer Support to Children with Social Anxiety

Apart from psychotherapy and medications, there can be many healthy coping techniques that can be employed by parents, teachers, children, or caregivers to manage social anxiety in overall functioning.

Moreover, schools and teachers play an important role in the treatment process of social anxiety disorder because school is the place wherein children can actually work positively on their social anxiety.

Psychologists and social skills trainers generally lead school interventions and therapy. If you’re a parent or teacher of a child diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, you must work on increasing awareness related to social anxiety disorder in children or teens.

Always stay in touch with the counselor or personnel to track the improvement status, understand triggers, and to self-help children with SAD. 

I understand that getting your child diagnosed with SAD can be a really tough and overwhelming situation, however, self-recovery only begins when you know how to support your children. It’s really important to learn about the disorder (and challenges associated with it), track symptoms, and teach them healthy coping techniques for improving the overall quality of life. 

You can begin the self-healing journey by appraising them for communicating their feelings or needs. Furthermore, keep exposing them gradually to fearful situations so that they can come out of the unknown fears. Moreover, you can take the help of the below-listed strategies to parent a child recently diagnosed with social anxiety disorder: 

  • Appraise them every time they try to face a fearful situation 
  • Choose realistic goals and let them take small towards them
  • Be a good listener and understand their symptoms and triggers
  • Stay connected with the professional and track their progress 
  • Expose gradually to fearful situations and support them 
  • Instead of scolding them, teach them innovative problem-solving skills 
  • Boost self-confidence with the power of meditation or yoga 
  • Work on improving their relationship with others 
  • Teach cognitive reframing to remove negative beliefs and anxious thoughts
  • Practice relaxation techniques together to ease up the associated symptoms 

I hope this blog helps you understand social anxiety disorder in children. Comment down and share your queries through the same or you can also write to us at Calm Sage. For more such content, connect with

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

As Seen On