I am wondering if it possible to have social anxiety at 3 years of age? My husband has been diagnosed with social anxiety and depression, and I have heard that social anxiety could be genetic.
My 3 year old is becoming increasingly shy/anxious whenever she is given attention by anyone other than my husband, myself and her elder sister - I am wondering if this is just a normal shy little girl or if I should have her checked out by a paediatrician to see if it is something more?
Some examples - we go out for a casual early dinner about once a month with another married couple and our girls come along. She is still shy and will not talk to them at all and is the same with pretty much anyone else we know.
She sees her grandparents at least once a week and has done so since birth, and still every time we arrive and they say hello she drops to the floor and won't move, enter the room or acknowledge them. She does loosen up after about half an hour with her grandparents though, however everyone else she will not.
She is bright and cheerful at home in her comfort zone, she is much quieter than her over confident sister but perfectly ok at home.
She goes to daycare 4 days a week and has done so for 2 years - she is ok with 2 teachers that have really make an effort to build trust, but everyone else she won't talk to much at all. She won't participate in kindy class (ie speak up in front of a group). Although she seems to interact with the other kids at kindy ok, if she thinks she is not being 'watched' by teachers.
The major issue is events like birthday parties where she is a nightmare! Even at her own third birthday party she refused to acknowledge or look at anyone as they arrived as she all wanted to give her attention. She refused to even sit and open presents for a couple of hours until she was sure noone was watching. She cowers into me when everyone sings happy birthday. Today we went to another child's birthday party from her kindy and she spent the first 1.5 hours clinging onto my leg while all the other kids were running off having a great time. During the happy birthday song, she freaked out especially and acted really scared. However with about 15 mins to the end of the party she relaxed alot and playng quite happily - as long as she could see I was within about 5 metres of her though.
My main worry is that given the family history of social anxiety that this could be more than shyness that she will grow out of. I worry that as she gets older it won't improve and it will hinder her from enjoying friendships, participating at school for things like show & tell etc.
What do you think - do you think it is normal or should I go with my intuition and see a paediatrician? Many thanks for your advice
I think at 3 years old she is very young and so alot of the behaviours here could be perfectly normal for age and perfectly normal for a shy child. I think alot of what OC said is true, in that you need to support her through this rather than force her into situations that you think will "acclimatise" her or lessen her shyness. I think everyone has their own personality, some kids are outgoing, some are shy and you cannot force it either way - they are who they are. I think there's alot to be said for supporting them and making them feel safe and secure in order to build their confidence. At birthday parties with lots of kids its pretty normal for some kids to feel some angst and not want the attention on them and not be comfortable in a siutation with numerous children - that in itself is not necessarily an indication of a "problem". Going to a paediatrician or physcologist might get you a diagnosis but its what you do with that diagnosis that counts - its all about helping her, she is who she is, if she is naturally shy then that is not something you can change but you can help her through supporting her and not forcing her to do things outside her comfort zone. By all means take her to parties but be with her, dont expect her to run off with the other kids or be the centre of attention, she needs to know you've got her back and maybe in time she will feel safe enough to venture out on her own. 3 is very young and all these social activities and birthday parties can be very daunting, dont compare her to other kids - she is not other kids, she is your kid and she is who she is, make her feel special for who she is smile
If she is happy knowing you are close by, then be close by, let her know its ok, let her know she doesnt have to do anything she is not happy to do. If she wants to go to a party and stay with mum then that's ok, if she wants to go off and play with other kids then that's ok too.
With the friends dinner thing... if you only see them once a month then that is a LONG time for a 3 year old, its not frequent enough for her to build a relationship and feel safe... so each time is like the first time again.
We all worry about our kids, we all want them to be confident, develop "normally", make friends and fit in - the most important thing is we accept our kids for who they are and its that which makes them feel accepted and "ok" at the end of the day. Kudos to you for taking into account your partners social anxiety and wanting to help your DD, its not an easy thing to deal with, no one wants to be like this, everyone wants to be accepted and feel at ease in social situations... so teach your DD that she is accepted, she is ok... for who she is.