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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Identifying Social Anxiety Disorder

11/06/2003

Question:

I am a first grade teacher and am concerned about one of my students. He is 6 years old and extremely shy and unconfident. He actually turns red when anyone speaks to him and talks very low. He seems to have no confidence and tries to copy even when we are doing in class, given the answers work.Do you have any suggestions that would help to draw him out, or getting some type of counseling set up for him.Could this possibly be social anxiety? It is hard to tell how much he really knows academically versus shyness or anxiety. Thanks for any advice.

Answer:

Shy children are at risk for social anxiety disorder, which can show itself as performance anxiety in public situations and can be distinguished by knowing material 1:1 or at seatwork but dropping in performance when presenting in front of the class. Fortunately, Childrens Hospital Medical Center Psychology Division has a Youth Shyness Program that can diagnose the problem as well as provide appropriate treatment options. 

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati