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(Read about SAD in children and adolescents.) Parents can help prevent social phobia from taking hold by being attuned to warning signs and symptoms.

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Director, Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Columbia University Medical Center Social anxiety disorder (SAD), or social phobia, can have a crippling effect on young people.

Children who avoid raising their hand or speaking up in school can become tweens who withdraw from extracurricular activities, and then teens who experience isolation and depression.

Parents can be sensitive to the anxiety these situations cause without isolating their children from them.

With the help of professionals, parents can learn to be exposure therapists, encouraging and supporting a child through the social situations that cause anxiety.

Shyness is a temperament; it is not debilitating the way social anxiety disorder is.

A shy child may take longer to warm up to a situation, but they eventually do.Learning to distinguish a shy child from one with social phobia, and understanding how parents can empower—rather than enable—children with social anxiety will help our children live full, socially rich lives.Recognizing the “silent disorder” Social anxiety disorder is sometimes called a silent disorder because it can affect children for years before it is diagnosed.It is a frightening situation for them, and one they would rather avoid altogether.Understanding the warning signs The average age of onset is 13 years, but you can see social phobia as early as 3 and 4 years old.By this point, the child may be experiencing extreme isolation and falling behind developmentally and academically.

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