Environmental Factors

To identify the reasons for social anxiety, considering environmental factors are significantly important in offering the most effective intervention for children based on the factors that caused SAD for them. Brook and Schmidt (2008) in their study provided a recent literature review and critique of proposed environmental risk factors for children’s SAD, focusing on environmental risk factors such as parenting and family environment and adverse life events.


The purpose of the study was to provide a recent review of risk and vulnerability factors that potentially come from the environment. Brook and Schmidt illustrated that parenting features such as over control, lack of warmth or rejection, and overprotection are known to be associated with the etiology of this disorder. Negative parental rearing practices which include practices of control, overprotection, rejection, neglect, lack of warmth or affection, anxious parenting, insensitivity, restrictiveness, social isolation, criticism, shame tactics, behavioral rigidity and concern with the opinions of others affect children’s SAD. For instance, parental over control lessens a child’s ability to explore and learn new skills independently and leads the child to be in anxiety in situations of perceived fear. Since parental rejection fosters causes an insecure attachment, it potentially leads to children’s Anxiety Disorders. Thus, early social relationships between the child and parents are essential for children’s proper emotional development.


In addition, adult with Social Anxiety recalled their parents isolating them from outside social experiences, stressing the importance of others’ opinions, and limiting family socializing both in and out of the home. Brook and Schmidt stated that another family factor that may contribute to the development of children’s anxiety disorders is attachment. Attachment refers to the type of enduring relationship that is established between children and their primary caregiver in the first year of life, so insecure attachment leads to children’s SAD in many cases. “Anxious parents are more likely to have anxious children, and mediation of this relation could be through specific parenting behaviors like over control” (Brook & Schmidt, p.131). Also, some traumatic events such as sexual and physical abuse, bullying, and parents’ divorce are considered environmental risk factors for children’s SAD which are identified as stressful life events because these events place increased pressure on the developing child and result in adverse outcomes.

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