Social Anxiety in Toddlers: What You Should Know
It’s normal for some toddlers and even adults to feel a little anxious or worried from time to time. But if mild anxiety and worries morph into fear and extreme anxiety that immobilize the person, that’s a problem. At that point, you have what developmental experts call social anxiety.
Now, the problem with social anxiety in toddlers is that you may not always easily recognize it. For that reason, you should talk to someone who understands depression, social anxiety, and other related disorders.
In this post, we’ll briefly describe what social anxiety in toddlers is like, and how to recognize it. We’ll also discuss how you can help your child if they’re contending with this challenge.
What is Social Anxiety in Toddlers?
According to NHS, social anxiety in toddlers is a level of anxiety that significantly affects the sufferer’s behavior and thoughts. The situation typically interferes with the child’s life at home and in social settings such as school.
Such a child needs attention from an experienced expert that focuses on children’s mental health issues. And that’s where our children’s mental health specialists come in. We’ve examined hundreds of toddlers with this problem, and we’ve amassed immense experience along the way. Would you like to consult with us now? Contact us here.
What Causes Social Anxiety in Toddlers?
The actual cause of this kind of anxiety isn’t fully understood. But researchers found that genetics may play a crucial role in its development. And that seems like a possible cause considering that genetics contributes significantly to personality and temperament.
The environment the toddler interacts with may also be an important factor. A young child whose parents are harsh is more likely to experience this level of anxiety. So, you should be mindful of how you treat your child.
Let them understand that your love for them is unconditional. Have them know that they don’t need to behave in certain ways to earn it. Also, always try to act confidently whenever you’re interacting with others.
Studies show that young children may learn anxiety from their parents. You may have unknowingly taught your toddler how to worry! At least, that’s what a study conducted in 2006 by Rosnay et al. found. The study demonstrated that young children responded to strangers in “socially anxious” situations the same way their parents did. So, what’s your toddler learning from you?
Social Anxiety and Autism: What’s the Difference?
While these two disorders may have one or two overlapping symptoms, they’re different. A toddler that avoids eye contact could be having either social anxiety or autism. So, don’t conclude your child has social anxiety just because they’re shy. Separation anxiety in toddlers is another sign often seen in young children with anxiety or autism.
But what’s the difference between autism and social anxiety? An autistic toddler typically doesn’t behave in accordance with the level of anxiety they might be experiencing. Such a child may speak too loudly or even demonstrate a surprising level of assertiveness. However, they may have trouble interpreting facial gestures or expressions. Or they may not easily understand the nuances of communication or social cues.
By contrast, a toddler experiencing social anxiety may talk weakly, or they may choose not to speak at all. And instead of being assertive, such toddlers may withdraw into themselves; completely avoiding other children. The behavior manifested reflects the level of unease they might be experiencing.
10 Signs of Anxiety in Children
Maybe you’ve seen certain signs in your child and you’re wondering whether they have this disorder. As a caring parent, you should learn all the signs associated with this condition. That’ll make it easy for you to recognize these symptoms and take immediate action. Here are the symptoms you should watch out for:
1. Such children tend to be picky eaters.
2. Panic attacks.
3. They demonstrate a higher level of sensitivity to tactile sensations.
4. They’re shy upon meeting a new person.
5. They fear strangers.
6. They may have other phobias or fears.
7. They never want to be left alone by their parents (separation anxiety).
8. They may experience sleep issues.
9. They tend to demonstrate very strong emotional reactions.
10. They may not feel comfortable when in social settings. Also, they may not want to interact with others at all.
How Can Parents Help Toddlers Overcome Social Anxiety?
Dealing with social anxiety in young children isn’t always easy. One effective way to help your child is to make them feel that you’re comfortable around others. We earlier noted that toddlers may learn social anxiety from their parents. You’re naturally the child’s first teacher in life.
Like a preschool teacher, you should teach by doing rather than by telling. It’s more about living out confidence and less about talking about it. They’re too young to understand complicated topics such as anxiety anyway. So, start seeing every interaction with others, particularly with strangers, as an opportunity to help your child.
Do These 4 Things
- Encourage your toddler to socialize with others.
- Shower them with adoration whenever they behave confidently in a scary situation.
- Consistently expose them to material that’ll let them see how courageous children behave. Start with books, movies, and videos.
- Learn to stay calm in all situations especially when your child is present.
3 Things You Shouldn’t Do
- Never force your child to interact with others.
- Never criticize them for having phobias or fears.
- Stop overprotecting them.
Contact a Seasoned Children’s Mental Illness Specialist Now
Are you ready to consult with our specialists at Novum Psychiatry? Thank you for choosing us. Our doctors have a thorough understanding of what anxiety disorders in children are and what they’re not.
We also realize it’s hard to perform a definitive diagnosis of a toddler. And we keep that in mind as we examine them.
Our diagnostic methods strive to uncover the basis of your child’s fears. We’ll advise you on how best you can help your little loved one overcome childhood anxiety.
Stop waiting. And don’t assume you know what the problem is. Instead, schedule an appointment with us now.