What is Anxiety Around Friendships?
Making friends is a key milestone in development and most children strive for acceptance from their peers. While some children thrive in social situations and have no trouble developing and maintaining friendships, other children struggle in social situations and experience significant difficulties making and keeping friendships. Often these children express anxiety around fitting in and being accepted, and worry about saying or doing things that may upset others or negatively impact their ability to fit in. These worries can often leave children feeling uncomfortable about going to school, or worried about participating in social activities with their peers. Children may voice concerns around what to wear on outings with their peers to seek their approval, or concerns about being invited to events or who to invite to events. Although this can come across as “Social Anxiety”, anxiety around friendships differ in that these children do not experience difficulties interacting in social situations or worry about embarrassing themselves. Instead, the worry centres around fitting in and being accepted by friendship groups or individuals they would like to be friends with.
What Treatment is Recommended for Anxiety Around Friendships?
Anxiety around friendships can be successfully managed through psychotherapy. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a short-term, focused approach that aims to bring about changes in a child’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Using CBT, a psychologist will sit down with your child and help them to identify their anxious thoughts and develop practical strategies to manage their worries.