How Anxiety Affects Children With Anxiety and Their Friendships

You know that having an anxiety disorder affects your child’s peer relationships, but recent research indicates that not all anxious children have the same relationship difficulties or social impairments.

While this finding smacks of common sense, some of the research outcome specifics were unexpected and enlightening.

The study compared aspects of social functioning between non-anxious (NA) children and those with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD). The children were 6 to 13 years of age.

Information was gathered through semi-structured interviews with the children and their parents, and parents filled out questionnaires regarding their child’s friendships, social problems and competence.

What the Study Indicates

Children with GAD are generally conscientious and rule-abiding individuals. These two qualities are more likely than not to foster good friendships. This helps explain some of the study’s findings.

Children with generalized anxiety disorder:

  • Have fewer friends than the NA (non-anxious) children.
  • Are just as likely to have a best friend as NA children.
  • Have the same quality of peer interactions as NA peers and see their friends just as frequently to do things outside of the classroom.
  • They have an equal ability to make new friends as NA peers. (Previous studies have shown that kids with GAD are considered as likable as non-anxious children.)

One reason children with GAD may have fewer friends than NA children is that they are more selective. GAD children might avoid friendships with individuals who are risk-takers, are highly adventurous or play loosely with rules. Plus, children with GAD, if they are competent and conscientious, may spend more time at home completing their homework and less time socializing.

Children with social anxiety disorder:

  • Have fewer friends than NA children but about the same number as those with GAD.
  • Are just as likely to have a best friend as those with GAD, or NA peers.
  • Have significant difficulty making new friends.
  • Are not as socially competent; the quality of their interactions is poorer. They spend less time with their peers, initiate interaction less frequently, and receive more negative or “ignore” responses from others.

Interestingly, children with SAD are just as likely to be involved in organized groups or clubs as their GAD peers or NA children. This may be because parents of children with SAD enroll them in activities, hoping the child will make friends. Another factor might be that some children’s organizations require or allow the presence of parents, helping a socially anxious child feel more comfortable.

Something important to note is that children who show improvement in symptoms of SAD get treatment not only to address their physical feeling of anxiety but receive social skills training as well.

How the Three Study Groups Are Alike

Participants in all three groups (NA, GAD, SAD) scored nearly the same in the category of social problems. These are difficulties that may develop within interpersonal relationships. The children’s ratings were all in the nonclinical or “normal” range concerning dependence, loneliness, jealousy, clumsiness, and speech problems.

Some researchers speculate that children with SAD because their social engagement is less frequent, have fewer opportunities to develop social problem issues.

Source: Children with Generalized Anxiety Disorder Do Not Have Peer Problems, Just Fewer Friends
Photo: Pixabay

Anxiety Support Groups

Submitted by bali bae on Fri, 08/16/2019 - 10:00am
Comments: 2    Views: 34
Submitted by Pixie on Fri, 08/16/2019 - 8:05am
Comments: 0    Views: 30
Submitted by MillieM on Thu, 08/15/2019 - 4:31pm
Comments: 1    Views: 38
Submitted by JustJules on Thu, 08/15/2019 - 11:42am
Comments: 3    Views: 48

More Articles

Here is a simple relaxation exercise you can do while riding the bus or train to work, taking a break at work or school, sitting with your morning...

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced in response to stress, and it is a necessary part of the fight or flight response that helps the...

Psychology professionals often recommend their clients adopt a pet as part of their mental health treatment. Or, they might prescribe structured...

Our bodies cannot function without the mineral magnesium, and that includes the proper working of neurons and neurotransmitters in the brain....

While many people turn to medication to treat their anxiety, it is not the best or most appropriate choice for everyone. Medication can be very...

More Articles

It has already been shown many times that adults with mental illnesses often had poor cognitive skills in their youth. What hasn't been...

Anxiety palpitations may be felt accompanying emotions such as excitement, stress, anxiety or fright. Normally a person is not aware of the...

Hoarding is the behavior of acquiring an excessive number of items that have little or no value. While many people consider themselves to be "pack...

How should Wellbutrin be used?

Wellbutrin is an oral antidepressant medication. Wellbutrin is used to treat the major depressive disorder...

Perceived threats trigger the 'fight or flight' response—that sequential process that prepares you either to put up a fight to defend your life—...

Should I try an herbal remedy for anxiety?

People are interested in herbal remedies for anxiety for a variety of reasons--some of the...

If you experience anxiety in various unfamiliar situations, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from situational...

Cortisol supplements are most often prescribed as a way to treat low adrenal gland function. Cortisol is sometimes referred to as the "stress...

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a mix of mindfulness meditation and simple yoga poses. It has been proven to help people reduce...

The first step in managing anxiety stomach pain is determining the nature, and causes of your discomfort.

For the best treatment, anxiety...

Anafranil is the brand name of the tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine. It is approved by the FDA to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and is...

People who are anxious may demonstrate a heightened sense of smell, according to new research being conducted at the University of Wisconsin at...

If you suffer from anxiety, you know that its impact on your life is far-reaching. Although it's not always discussed, sex is one area that is...

There is no one cause for anxiety but several factors that contribute to its development. Scientists have broken them down into three parts: brain...

Lexapro is an SSRI antidepressant that is FDA approved for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is one of the antidepressants...