social phobia (also called social anxiety disorder) have
a persistent fear of being embarrassed in social
situations, during a performance, or if they have to
speak in the class or in public, get into conversation
with others, or eat, drink or write in public.
Feelings of anxiety in these situations produce
physical reactions; palpitations, tremors, sweating,
diarrhea, blushing, muscle tension, etc. Sometimes
a full blown panic attack ensues. Sometimes the
reaction is more mild.
These children exhibit excessive fear in situations
where they have to perform in front of unfamiliar people
or in situations where they may be observed or
scrutinized by others. The anxiety that is
experienced must be experienced in situations where
children have to perform in the presence of other
children, as well as in situations where they have
to perform in front of adults. The child
either avoids the feared social or performance
situation, or he or she endures it with intense anxiety
To reach diagnostic criteria for this disorder, the
child's avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in
the feared social or performance situation needs to be
excessive, and interfere significantly with the child's
normal routine, academic performance, or social
activities or relationships.
Adolescents and adults are able to recognize that
their fear is unreasonable or excessive, although this
recognition does not prevent the fear. Children,
however, might not recognize that their reaction is
excessive, although they may be afraid that others will
notice their anxiety and consider them odd or babyish.
Young children do not articulate their fears, but may
cry, have tantrums, freeze, cling, appear extremely
timid in strange social settings, shrink from contact
with others, stay on the side during social events, and
try to stay close to familiar adults.
Children with this disorder may fall behind in
school, avoid school completely, or avoid social
activities among children their age. They may find
it impossible to speak in social situations or in the
presence of unfamiliar people.