It’s common for children and teenagers to feel anxious about what other people think of them. Some kids feel so anxious that they develop something called social anxiety disorder. This is when you worry so much about what others think about you that you stop doing things you need (and want) to do for fear of embarrassing yourself.
Social anxiety in kids starts between the ages of 8 and 15. They can usually hide their feelings in the beginning, and parents and teachers may not notice that anything is wrong.
Social anxiety means that even small things — like answering a question in class or eating with friends in the cafeteria — can feel very scary. That’s because kids worry that they might accidentally do something embarrassing or offensive, and it will change what people think about them.
The kinds of situations that can cause social anxiety in kids will be different from person to person. One child might see their friends whispering and laughing, and they might think their friends are laughing at them. Another child might want to ask the teacher a question but doesn’t because they are afraid they will sound stupid.
Kids with social anxiety disorder often think everyone can see their anxiety, and that’s another thing they worry and are embarrassed about. When they are extremely anxious, they may hide their feelings. Or some kids lash out, seeming angry or aggressive.
Social anxiety disorder in kids can cause them to avoid things that worry them. While this might work to calm anxiety in the short term, hiding from anxiety really only makes it get worse. It can also become a habit. Asking for help can be hard, but it really is important.
What is oppositional defiant disorder?
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD ) is a children’s mental health disorder that involves defying parents, breaking rules, and other serious behavior problems. All children act out sometimes, but kids who have oppositional defiant disorder struggle with their behavior regularly. They are often angry or irritable. Their behavior problems are also more extreme. For example, a child with ODD might yell at authority figures or throw tantrums if they don’t get their way.
In order to be diagnosed with ODD, a child needs to have extreme behavior issues for at least six months.
What are the symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder?
Children with ODD have a pattern of behavior problems. Here are some common symptoms:
- Being unusually angry and irritable
- Frequently losing their temper
- Being easily annoyed
- Arguing with authority figures
- Refusing to follow rules
- Annoying people on purpose
- Blaming others for mistakes
Some children with ODD struggle with disruptive behavior in school. Others only struggle at home with family.
How is oppositional defiant disorder diagnosed?
For a child to be diagnosed with ODD, they must have a pattern of disruptive behavior including at least four symptoms from this list:
- Often loses temper
- Easily annoyed
- Often angry and resentful
- Argues with adults
- Breaks rules
- Annoys or hurts people on purpose
- Blames others for behavior
For a diagnosis, these symptoms also need to last at least six months and involve at least one person who isn’t a sibling.
ODD is typically diagnosed in kids in elementary school.