Social anxiety, or the experience of anxiety in social settings, is common in people who are introverted. It seems natural that kids who prefer to spend time alone may get anxiety in social settings, and those who are more outgoing would not.
While social anxiety is more common in introverts, extroverted children can experience it as well. For extroverts, who enjoy activities that involve others, social anxiety can be extremely crippling.
What is an Extrovert?
Many outgoing kids are what as known as “extroverted.” Extroversion and introversion are two opposites on a spectrum that people all fall. Extroverts are social and outgoing, where introverts tend to be quiet and reserved. In reality, all kids fall somewhere on the spectrum, they are not one or the other.
Still, some kids lean far toward extroversion, and the outgoing kids tend to seek out excitement, social settings, and activity.
Social anxiety is the fear of social situations. When people are afraid of being judged, they tend to avoid social situations when possible. When thrust into social situations, social anxiety can cause people to experience shortness of breath, shaking, sweating, and other signs of anxiety.
Can Outgoing Kids Have Social Anxiety?
Even though social anxiety seems more connected to introversion, extroverts can still have it. Outgoing kids may be more drawn to social interactions, but they may still develop anxiety in those situations.
Extroverts are less likely to develop social anxiety, but it does happen. When outgoing kids do have social anxiety, it can be very detrimental. The social anxiety may impede them from engaging in the very activities they enjoy most, having serious mental health consequences.
How to Help Kids with Social Anxiety
Whether your child tends to be closer to extroversion or introversion, they can deal with social anxiety. Here are some ways you can help:
- Give them opportunities to practice interacting. The last thing you want is to let the anxiety control your child.
- Prepare first. Try role-playing the situations that make your child nervous.
- Challenge negative beliefs. If your child is afraid everyone will laugh when she presents at school, ask her to challenge this thinking. How does she know? What evidence is there to support this negative belief?
- Share stories about how you’ve overcome your own nerves in social situations or faced your fears.
While there are ways you can help your child overcome their social anxiety, sometimes you may need the help of an expert. If the social anxiety is immense or persistent, consider working with a mental health professional.