Social Anxiety in Children: When it is Beyond Shyness

Do your kids have a hard time warming up to people? Are they slow to make friends? Are they silent at family gatherings? When does shyness turn into social anxiety in children? It can be a challenge to tell what the signs of social anxiety are and what is just shyness?

Does your child have a hard time making friends? Does your child get overwhelmed in social situations? Is it shyness or is it something more? Here are 30 signs of social anxiety in children. Are you missing the signs?

Here are 30 signs of social anxiety in children. Each sign individually is normal and many kids will have these thoughts and struggles. But if the whole list starts to sound very much like your kid, you might want to take a closer look at social anxiety.

To listen to the podcast episode on this topic click here.

This list is not meant to diagnose and is for informational purposes only. If you are worried about your child having signs of social anxiety, please consult a mental health professional.

30 Signs of Social Anxiety in Children:

1. Has a hard time talking to other kids and/or adults.

2. Excessively worries about their appearance.

3. Worries they might say something or do something embarrassing.

4. Struggles with ordering their own food at restaurants.

5. Is consumed with what other people think of them.

6. Has a hard time eating in front of other people when they are not at home.

7. Prefers to stay at home most of the time.

8. Feels overwhelmed in large social gatherings.

Does your child have a hard time talking to people? Are you missing the signs of social anxiety in children? Find out here.

9. Worries parents are going to embarrass them in front of their friends.

10. Doesn’t like anyone to focus on them.

11. Is too anxious to raise their hand in class.

12. Overanalyzes social situations.

13. Often feels friends don’t really like them.

14. Has a hard time talking to people on the phone.

15. When they were very little they had a hard time separating.

16. When they were little they didn’t talk to anyone except family.

17. They have a hard time using the bathroom when they are not at home.

18. Refuses to poop anywhere, but home.

19. Feels like their friends don’t really care about them.

Does your child have a hard time talking to people? Are you missing the signs of social anxiety in children? Find out here.

20. Is too anxious to do school presentations.

21. Is too anxious to read out loud in class.

22. Excessively worries that other people are judging them.

23. Is mortified if a teacher corrects them in front of other students.

24. Speaks softly to those they don’t know.

25. Fears new social situations.

26. Plays alone at school.

27. Has limited friends.

28. Teachers describe a completely different child than the one you see at home.

29. Gets self-conscious when their appearance changes (haircut, braces etc.).

30. Is overly afraid that kids will be mean to them.

This list is by no means comprehensive. These are just some of the most common signs of social anxiety I see in my practice.

Did this list sound familiar? What other signs of social anxiety do you see in your kids? Leave a comment and share with other parents.

Do you know someone who has a child with signs of social anxiety? Share this article with them.


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If you know a teen struggling with anxiety, give them the only self-help book teens are likely to read:

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OTHER ARTICLES:  Ask the Child Therapist Episode 7: How Do I Help My Shy Child?

13 responses to “30 Signs of Social Anxiety in Children: When it is Beyond Shyness”

  1. Tamara says:

    This is a great list. Another thing I notice with anxious kids is their tendency to act out when they are in a large busy department store. It is just too much extra stimulation to have all those people and all that stuff.

  2. Isabella says:

    anxiety is a big threat to human life. In US one experiencing with metal anxiety out four and it is increasing day by day. Now a big question is how to save the community from this deadliest disease? teen-age anxiety is another devasting news we see every day. Is it for a lifestyle change? or our irresponsibility?

  3. Kaitlyn says:

    This actually describes me to a T as a child and I still have most of these syptoms as an adult…makes me wonder if this is what was wrong with me the while time…

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      I hope learning what it is helps! I know it did for me.

    • Jennifer says:

      I know, I was about to say the same thing. Almost every behavior listed sent me into school-days flashbacks. I wish my parents would have recognized I had anxiety. I wonder if had I had the help back then, maybe I wouldn’t be the Trainwreck I am today.

      • Natasha Daniels says:

        It’s never too late to start feeling better. I didn’t realize I had social anxiety until I was in my 40s! The last few years have been so much better since I had that epiphany and started to work on it. It also explains my struggles as a kid.

      • DizAster says:


  4. Roberta says:

    While reading through this list, I noticed that at least half of it describes my three year old.
    What I am praying for, is a lot of help and guidance to help him, because I would hate for him to
    live through this into adulthood. People, and other children are cruel. And I wouldn’t want him to be a target.

  5. Marshell says:

    My Granddaughter {6}, do not like to be in a crowd, she will not perform with the other children, she turns away from the audience and face a classmate, when we go to the fair, we have to go early, crowds just scare her where she starts to cry. We are going to talk to her Doctor. Is it really social anxiety, or do we have a bigger problem.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      From just that description it is hard to say. It could be social anxiety. It could be sensory overload. It would be helpful to give her the tools to cope with it now though while she is young.

  6. Bill says:

    My son has had this issue for years, it got so bad we had to start home schooling him. We have used our church home to introduce people and friends his age as a means of interacting with other children. He is 11 years old now. He would vomit as soon as we approached his elementary school. He would have a major panic attacks and cry very badly. We forced him to go anyways because we felt it was the right thing to do. Some days were better than others. Unti, he started getting into fights. We decided we would get him to see a psychologist. He fought that too, but we took him anyways. Same results. At this point we try not to force him into situations and let him find his own way of doing things without getting upset. He still won’t be alone without one of us with him. He did however allow us to go to Guatemala last year for a week without him, but have several bad days. We are praying he grows out of it. Any suggestions or ideas? He doesn’t even like to be left alone with family and doesn’t want to join any outside activities. He pretty much likes to be home and do his own thing. He does have friends and loves when they come over to play, but he won’t go anywhere without his mom or I present.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Sorry to hear about your son’s struggles. Unfortunately kids don’t typically grow out of acute anxiety without working on it. The more anxiety makes us avoid, the bigger it grows. Your son’s anxiety sounds very debilitating. There are treatment centers that can help. Rogers Memorial Hospital is one of the best treatment centers for anxiety. I would look into that option. I work with many kids who have turned into adults and still live at home and cannot work due to their need to be right next to their parent. This isn’t a childhood issue, it is an anxiety issue.

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