Childhood Adoption and Risks for Social Anxiety in Children

Adoption is a healthy practice of parenting that is often a well benefit for the child involved. For some children, depending on their prior life experiences, there may be a risk for developing mental health complications after an adoption takes place. If you are planning to adopt a child over the age of six months, it is important to be familiar with these mental health risks and especially become familiar with the issues of social anxiety in children.

Social anxiety is a mental health complication that can be temporary or permanent, affecting both adults as well as children. In children who have social anxiety, there is often a clear behavior that mimics shyness but, unlike shyness, the symptoms of social anxiety are far more severe. For most children, the complications of social anxiety can be overcome with proper psychological treatment.

Children who are adopted are often at risk for the development of social anxiety as they often have developed complications involving trust, attachment, and feelings of security. As a result, new faces and new personalities often overwhelm a child that is new to a family and this can lead to a form of physical and emotional anxiety that is challenging to overcome. For some parents who adopt, there is often some degree of surprise when a child develops this condition as there is concern the child is simply shy and will overcome the health issue.

When in the presence of new faces, new environments, or simply in a larger group of people, if you find that your child is distressed, this could be a clear sign of social anxiety. Crying, throwing temper tantrums, or simply being restless, are clear signs that a child has a distress internally that should be addressed. For some children, the signs of social anxiety may simply be an overwhelming mimic of shyness but without proper treatment, the internal revolution of anxiety will not be overcome.

Meeting with a mental health professional who can provide guidance in treating social anxiety in children will be ideal for any child, whether adopted or not. Typically, children are given a form of pediatric cognitive therapy to help them in facing their anxiety-driven situations in a more healthy manner. In rare cases, a child may need medications to help them overcome their social anxiety while they learn the techniques of therapy. As a parent who has adopted a child in this predicament, always be open to suggestions and never dismiss your child’s anxiety as a simple form of shyness.

Sources: The Complete Adoption Book, by Laura Beauvais-Godwin

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