Social anxiety disorder in 3 yo - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 12-08-2013, 12:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone, I'm just wondering if there are any other parents out there of kids with severe social anxieties? My DD was just diagnosed with general, social and separation anxiety. She has SPD but of course hasn't been "diagnosed" with that. She started preschool in the fall and is having SUCH a hard time if it. She is literally phobic of children and has been since 13 months old. Thankfully we are starting to get some help in place with a play therapist and child services is coming into school to work with her starting next week. I'm wondering lately though how I know when to push her and how much. Like yesterday we went to her preschool holiday party and she was a wreck so we left very early. We knew it wasn't going to be fun for her going into it but we feel like we are just supposed to keep exposing her to social situations. The pathetic part is that her dad and I are not exactly social people ourselves so we feel similar to how she feels and are happy to hightail it for home. I have a feeling that pretty soon it is going to get a lot harder to drag her into social situations.
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#2 of 4 Old 12-08-2013, 03:11 PM
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hi Kelly and Bean! my oldest DS had/has general anxiety, and then specific phobias. He is now almost a teenager, but I have to say that his anxiety lessened a lot as he grew older. It was *the worst* ages 3-8.


there are a lot of resources as she gets older... but the one thing I will suggest now is making a habbit for you of mindfulness. Another thing that helped me navigate pushing vs. letting my DS retreat, was that if you do avoid something, it does reinforce that there is something to be scared of. So if you have a holiday party, and she doesn't want to go... not going confirms that it is scary. So good for you for going! Even if you only stay for 5 minutes. She will see that wasn't so bad and she survived. It can also be helpful to talk about new things.


Even though you aren't social it is good to have habits where she sees you talking to other people, etc. But just little steps. She is so very young, and a lot of stuff comes with experience. SPD can certainly make it worse... because certain situations (loud sounds, busy moving bodies) can actually hurt a bit. But it sounds like you have a good plan going on. Hang in there! Anxiety is hard but can be worked through.

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#3 of 4 Old 12-13-2013, 07:38 PM
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Hugs, mama.  If she has SPD, I wonder if that's heightening her reactions overall (I have seen this happen).  And SPD kids often respond well to dietary intervention.  It's not about a "healthy diet" it's about underlying intolerances that could be agitating your child's system.


It's always hard to know how hard to push them in therapy.  BTDT.  You do what you think is best and if it was horrible in retrospect, you make peace with the fact that you were operating under the best information available and intentions.  Go with your mama gut ALWAYS, though.

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#4 of 4 Old 01-11-2014, 06:43 PM
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Hi! It is good to know I am not alone. My 2.5 DS has severe social anxiety. It is very selective though only with big parties when people, mostly adults he does not know are into his face and held in a very small indoor place. He is fine with neigbhors, family, church or gym.

He was not diagnosed or anything like that . My pedia told me not to worry about it and do aversion therapy. She told me if it is not a kids party do not take him. If he is miserable, then you will be miserable. This is a very tricky situation since I am very social. My DS is also an introvert like his dad, grandma and uncle. It runs in our family.

I am a special education teacher and I have done stuff that helped him:

We warn him for upcoming events , where we are going, what will happen, who we will see.

We come 15 early to event before action happens

I wrote him social stories for new special places like his first time going to the library or zoo. ( let me know if you need help with this, there is an app for IPAd that is super easy)

We keep activities in small groups. He has few close friends.

Praise, praise , praise him if he showed or initiated a conversation to a peer in the playground

Model good social behaviors. Do role play with toys.

Gossip ( this is a method by Dr. Karp ) Tell someone or a toy about what he did good socially

Most of all, what really helped me was reading the book " The Hidden Power of Introverts". It made me appreciate him for who he is and love him the way God made him. He is very smart, loving and respectful kid. It may take him a little while to warm up but it is OK. It was really hard on me at first because I was am social. I used to force him and take him to big kid's parties and groups but we ended up all miserable. What I cannot stand was when people ask me if there is something wrong with him. I've lost some friendships because of this. We are still on a journey with this especially now that his 1 year old sister who is very social. We take it one day at a time. My husband is very supportive because he can relate being an introvert himself. We are in a world where being social is highly appreciated and we forget that some kids are different and special . We are hoping to see him evolve in time. It might take longer but it is OK. We love him for who he is. Good luck!

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