This is an emotionally complex time of the year for children and teens – now that the holidays are approaching, stresses associated with social activities and education are at their peak. Social anxiety affects people of all ages and can be particularly detrimental to adolescents who are establishing early, meaningful relationships, social identity and a sense of belonging among friends and peers.
Be on the lookout for a number of expressions of social anxiety – some young people who feel threatened by groups in a school setting or in shared activities will withdraw into themselves and will resist social situations out of fear or negative conditioning. This is an important tendency to address as risk-averse behavior can establish patterns that will live with a person over time. Shyness, passivity and a desire for control are not necessarily negative traits but can have unpleasant effects and develop into deeper aversions around collaboration and difficulty communicating with others. A more serious - though less common – expression of social anxiety takes the form of aggressive, antisocial behavior and manifests in negative relationships with parents, classmates, peers and authority figures.
Social anxiety tends to set in during mid-teen years. What can you be on the lookout for in identifying social anxiety disorder in children and teens? Instances where fear or nervousness influenced a decision your young clients made, for one. For instance, if a young person refuses to speak or present in front of a group, or defers to others during group activities, they may be suffering from social anxiety. Children and teens who appear to lack intimate, close relationships with their parents and friends are likely experiencing social anxiety. Frequent, ongoing concerns about weight or physical appearance or other forms of feeling victimized in a social setting can also signal social anxiety.
We’ve compiled some recent articles and publications to help you stay up to date on pediatric and adolescent social anxiety.
Adolescent Peer Relations, Friendships, and Romantic Relationships: Do They Predict Social Anxiety and Depression? – Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology
Examining the relation between adolescent social anxiety, adolescent delinquency (abstention), and emerging adulthood relationship quality – Anxiety, Stress & Coping
Treating Adolescents with Social Anxiety Disorder in Schools – NCBI
Publications to Share with Parents
How to Help Kids with Social Anxiety
Ways to Help an Anxious Child with Relationships
Child Healing: Social Anxiety Disorder
If you feel that your young patients need a more comprehensive approach, the START program at Casa Pacific is a great place to, well, start!
Casa Pacifica’s Short-Term Adolescent Residential Treatment (START) program is designed for youth ages 9 through 17 years old and specifically addresses a wide range of mental health issues.
Contact us, or call now at (805) 366-4000.