Classroom settings are situations that may be more than enough to evoke anxiety related to performance, grades, scrutiny, academic performance, peer comparisons, and judgment. If your teen is struggling with social anxiety, he/she may have considerable difficulty paying attention and sitting through class. People with social anxiety may have difficulty being around unfamiliar people, worry about scrutiny and judgment, and worry about acting or behaving in a way that is embarrassing. Such situations may invoke panic attacks or panic like symptoms. In a classroom setting, anxiety may be getting in the way of your teen's ability to pay attention, get necessary information, and perform well.
Anxiety disorders generally have one thing in common- that the anxiety is so extreme that it gets in the way of other aspects of life. Scientifically supported treatments for anxiety disorders all include some form of exposure. What is exposure? It is when people come into direct contact with things that they find threatening- and don’t escape or avoid the feelings or thoughts that arise when in these situations. Over time, the person gets better at tolerating what they are afraid of. Over time, their fear goes down. The person actually experiences being in or near the threatening situation without censoring thoughts and feelings associated with the threat.
Group situations or settings are often all that's needed to get socially anxious people anxious. If a person has the opportunity to be in social settings in a wide variety of settings over time, he/she would eventually become more comfortable in crowds, groups, or classrooms. However, just being there often isn't enough. Besides approaching and tolerating, the person may want to act or behave in ways that don't look like the person is socially anxious. More specifically, teenagers with social anxiety might practice making eye contact, speaking louder, breathing more slowly, initiating conversations, and practicing body posture that exudes confidence. Creating opportunties to practice this mulitple times will help the behaviors to come more naturally.
It absolutely makes sense for people to avoid situations in which they might be judged, attacked, criticized, or shamed. However, sometimes fear is so overwhelming that it gets people to avoid social events in which the actual threat of public humiliation is low. In some cases social anxiety can be so debilitating that the person starts to avoid all or any social situations. When this happens, people often tend to miss out on a lot of life experiences- because they never experience the positive social interactions, either. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort, but addressing social anxiety can result in more support, better relationships, and increased opportunties.