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Is My Child Shy or Anxious?

Is my child shy or do they have anxiety? This question boggles the minds of parents all across the world. While it may not always seem like it, there is a very distinct difference between a child dealing with shyness and a child dealing with social anxiety. Anxiety is so much more than shyness, shyness is merely a personality trait while social anxiety is accompanied by negative emotions and feelings. Typically shyness is not a cause of concern in children, but if a child’s shyness is turning into social anxiety, that is when the red flags are raised.

How Do I Know if it’s Shyness or Anxiety?

They say a parent’s instinct is strong, and there is no doubt about that when it comes to knowing how your child is feeling. If you believe your child may be struggling with social anxiety and not just shyness, there is a good chance they are. If your child is constantly worried about being judged by others for saying or doing the wrong thing, they are struggling with social anxiety. In children, these fears are completely uncontrollable, and often the situation will escalate if they are forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable. It is not uncommon for a child dealing with social anxiety to throw a tantrum or cry if they are confronted with a situation that terrifies them. Other physical symptoms to look for include sweating, shaking, and/or shortness of breath. As a parent, trust your gut feeling, your instinct is stronger than you think.

How Can I Help as a Parent?

There are many ways you as a parent can help your child with their shyness or anxiety. The biggest and most important part of this is helping them learn which of the two they are struggling with, from there, you will both be properly suited to tackle the struggles. Here’s a few ways you can support your child as they find their way with shyness or anxiety.

  • Share your personal experiences- if you have struggled with shyness or anxiety in the past, be transparent about it with your child. Sharing your experiences or coping strategies will make them feel less alone and understand just how common it is.

  • Try goal-setting- creating goals for and with your child is a great way to encourage brave behavior. Start small and aim for attainable goals and slowly allow those goals to be bigger and bigger.

  • Praise them- when it comes to shyness and anxiety, many children will fear trying new things. Be sure to praise your child for the skills they are doing well, and encourage them any time you can.

Get Your Child the Help They Need

If your child’s shy tendencies seem to be affecting their ability to enjoy their life or complete basic daily tasks, consider reaching out for support. One of our therapists will be ready to help you. If you are looking for additional support, give us a call or text to learn more (203-903-8042).

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