Written by By Dr Cate Hearn
Shy or Self-Conscious
Compared to other children their own age, socially anxious children appear shyer and more self-conscious. They may:
- Find it hard to talk to other children
- Find it hard to make new friends
- Feel left out or awkward, or worry they’ll embarrass themselves
- Have less well developed social skills than children their own age
- Dislike being the centre of attention
- Worry a lot about their appearance
- Worry that their friends don’t really like them
- Be quiet in large social situations
- Speak softly to those they don’t know well
Socially anxious children fear and avoid a range of social situations. They may:
- Avoid new social situations
- Make excuses not to go, by saying, “I’m just a homebody”, “I don’t feel like going”, “I don’t like parties”
- Dread sports days or swimming carnivals
- Dislike giving orals or talks in class
- Be too anxious to raise their hand/answer questions in class
- Play alone often
Tummy pains, headaches
Anxiety and worry can manifest in physical symptoms, and socially anxious children may:
- Report pains in the stomach, headaches, nausea or sore/aching arms/legs especially before school or social events
- Become withdrawn or irritable before social events or before school
Won't they just grow out of it?
Research shows that a great many children with social anxiety do not just ‘grow out’ of it.
Left untreated, social anxiety can persist and cause significant interference in children’s lives. Child friendly cognitive behaviour therapy for social anxiety can help children overcome social anxiety.
At Benchmark Psychology, we have a number of therapists who can provide child friendly therapy to socially anxious children. Ask for Dr Cate Hearn (who’s PhD thesis was in child and adolescent social anxiety), Dr Alison Bocquee, Dr Kylee Forrest, Dr Jasmine Pang or Dr Leona Chun.
Something’s not quite right
James was like any other 9-year-old, but at the first mention of school his whole body would shrink and he would stare at the floor. Even though he had some good friends and wasn’t being bullied, he really didn’t like school. He didn’t have any ‘obvious’ issues, but he just couldn’t seem to keep up with the schoolwork and even started to call himself ‘the dumb kid’.
Chloe needed constant help to do her homework and was embarrassed to read in front of others. She was losing her confidence and every day became a battle to make it through the afternoon. Her parents were worried because they could see that if they didn’t do something she would be left behind, and their cheerful little girl would slowly withdraw away.
Parents are the experts on their children. They know their children better than anyone else, and they know when things aren't quite right.
Ryan has always seemed a little different from his brother. He didn’t play the same games and would spend hours alone, lost in “Ryan’s World”. He seemed to be a bright kid, but he never quite got it when it came to friends. One moment he would be smiling up at his parents and the next he would be on the ground. His parents were lost for how to help him.
The myth of watch and wait
These stories are ones we hear every day. Unfortunately, parents concerned about their child’s development are all too often told to ‘watch and wait’. They’re told that they are just ‘anxious’ parents and that their child’s problems are ‘just a phase’. These messages are not only invalidating for parents – they leave children behind and leave families and educators lost.
The path to helping children develop begins with understanding.
Parents are the experts on their children. They are number one. They know their children better than anyone else, and they know when things aren't quite right. Trusting this intuition as a parent and getting support as soon as possible, can help children reach their potential and be the best they can be before a small problem becomes a big one.
Finding a path for your child
Sometimes parents feel like they’ve tried everything to help their child and nothing seems to make much difference. They feel like they are sailing in the dark – not knowing which direction to turn. The real issue is that often we don’t have a clear understanding of the child’s thinking style or view of the world.
The path to helping children who are experiencing challenges in their social, emotional, behavioural, or academic development begins with understanding. A developmental assessment can provide this key and open up the pathway to change.Assessments for children can include a range of developmental areas. For example, cognitive assessments help parents to understand their child’s way of looking at the world.
Assessments for children can include a range of developmental areas. For example, cognitive assessments help parents to understand their child’s way of looking at the world, and can detect if a child is struggling to keep up, if they need more help, or if they have difficulty with a particular area of learning (such as problems with reading or paying attention). Assessments can also target specific developmental challenges, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders or Asperger’s Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and clinical anxiety.
At Benchmark Psychology, we have a team of clinicians experienced in a range of developmental assessments for children and young people. Assessments are conducted directly by registered a clinical psychologist or clinical neuropsychologist with experience in assessments and postgraduate university qualifications.
We only use the gold-standard measures for assessment, such as the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), Weschler Individual Attainment Scale (WIAT), and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2).
Every family is engaged in their child’s assessment process from start to finish. Parents receive a written report, outlining the assessment steps, the findings, and detailed recommendations to help parents decide where to from here. Parents also attend a feedback session with the clinician to go through the report together, discuss the results, and ask any questions.
Benchmark Psychology also offer families full assessment packages at a low cost (compared to other psychological practices in South-East Queensland).
To find out more or book an assessment today, call (07) 3349 5511 or visit benchmarkpsychology.com.au/services/cognitive-assessment/ for information about cognitive assessments or
benchmarkpsychology.com.au/autism-spectrum-disorders-assessment/ for autism spectrum disorders assessment.
This post was written for us by Dr Grace Sweeney and Dr Richard Wellauer from Benchmark Psychology.