The Fear of Being Judged in Children
People are social beings who develop, learn, and grow in contact with others. Therefore, we need to belong to a group, to feel integrated, accepted, loved, and respected. Therefore, we’re not oblivious to what people think of us, and sometimes, the concern regarding the external gaze can be excessive and harmful. Even as children, it’s possible to develop a fear of being judged, and if we don’t learn to control it, it can develop into a social phobia.
Infants and adolescents are in the midst of developing their identity, self-concept, and self-esteem, and are especially vulnerable to the opinions of the people around them. Even the opinion of their peers about them can limit them in their actions. Therefore, it’s very important to educate them to learn how to deal with criticism and work on the fear of being judged.
Children and the fear of being judged
This fear is normal and natural during childhood, as at this stage, children begin to develop their self-concept and self-esteem. Both concepts will be influenced by the opinions of others about them and will be the foundations on which their identity will be based. Therefore, the evaluations that children have received and the experiences they have lived will determine how they’ll see themselves. That is, in a positive or a negative way.
We all have the tendency to compare ourselves, judge, and criticize others. The problem arises when a child feels judged in a negative way and develops a fear of what others think of them. Consequently, the little one hides behind a shell to avoid criticism, in an attempt to please others.
Excessive concern regarding the gaze of others and fear of being judged appears early in life and it’s crucial to teach children to free themselves from this burden from an early age. If this fear isn’t mastered, it can lead to an anxiety disorder, which is social phobia. In this case, the fear of being evaluated by others interferes with the person’s daily life, as the fear of ridicule restricts them from facing different situations.
Keys to bringing up children who aren’t afraid of being judged
Parents can provide children with tools to help them lose the fear of being judged by others. This way, they’ll be able to show themselves as they are, without having to hide or pretend to be something they’re not.
Take note of some of the recommendations to incorporate into your children’s upbringing:
- Educate your child from an early age to accept and love themself as they are, without the need to feel liked or loved by anyone.
- Take care of your child’s self-esteem and nurture it daily through positive education. Value their efforts and their person.
- Always provide them with a real and accurate image of themself.
- Find out how they interpret other people’s opinions and how they feel about them.
- Explain to them that we all have the tendency to judge, and that everything we do or are is susceptible to the opinion of others.
- Make it clear to them that not everyone will always like what they do, but that this doesn’t have to limit them from doing it. No one likes everyone and the important thing is that they like themself and like what they do.
- Teach them how to interpret the criticisms of others and the relevance they have to give to each one of them. Although we can’t avoid them, we can avoid feeling bad about them. Our attitude towards others’ evaluations is the factor we can control.
- Talk to them about the importance of always being themself and not hiding to live the life they want to live. No one’s going to be happy for them and, therefore, they have to fight for what they want. And above all, no one has to force them to be something they’re not.
About the fear of being judged in children
The fear of being judged is a natural part of human beings and all people feel it at some point in our lives. When experienced excessively, it can lead to negative consequences, such as the development of anxiety disorders and social phobia. Therefore, it’s important that from an early age, we teach our children how much they’re really worth, so that they feel free from the opinion of others. We must encourage self-knowledge and self-acceptance in our children so that they can understand that the most valuable thing in their lives is themselves.
No matter what people think or say, if they¿re clear about who they are and are authentic, they’ll feel better about themselves.
“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.”
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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Bados, A. (2001). Fobia social. Madrid: Síntesis.
- Sánchez-García, R., & Olivares, J. (2009). Intervención temprana en niños y adolescentes con fobia social. Anuario de psicología, 40(1), 75-88. Disponible en: https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/970/97020402006.pdf
- Camilli Trujillo, C.R., Rodriguez, A (2008) Fobia social y terapia cognitivo-conductual. Definición, evaluación y tratamiento. Anales de la Universidad Metropolitana, ISSN-e 1856-9811, Vol. 8, Nº. 1, 2008, págs. 115-137. Disponible en: https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=3622427