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Should You Be Concerned By Teen Shyness?


shy teenage girl

Witnessing your teenager rapidly change and navigating the range of challenges associated with supporting your child through his or her adolescence is par for the course when it comes to parenting. Newly imposed expectations, increased curiosity, life challenges, as well as inevitable hormone shifts, and physical changes are unavoidable side effects of the maturation process that occur during one’s adolescence. Teenagers spend much of their time simply trying to make sense of world around them, which can lead to an array of discomforts. The American Psychological Association explains “shyness is the tendency to feel awkward, worried or tense during social encounters, especially with unfamiliar people.” Most of the time teenage shyness is a temporary phase and nothing to worry about. 

When To Be Concerned

If your teenager experiences severe shyness that prohibits them from interacting with others, it may be cause for concern. Although mental illness can develop at any age, studies have shown that it is not uncommon for dormant mental illnesses to surface and/ or for new mental illness to emerge during one’s adolescence and into one’s young adulthood. One mental health illness that is frequently connected to excessive shyness is called avoidant personality disorder. Teenagers with avoidant personality disorder go to extreme lengths to avoid social situations due to fear of being judged by others and rejection. Every young person is unique and will exhibit the signs and symptoms of avoidant personality disorder differently. There are, however, several common signs and symptoms associated with avoidant personality disorder, which can include any combination of the following, as provided by Psychology Today:

  • Exaggeration of potential difficulties
  • Avoidance of activities that involve contact with others
  • Reluctance to become involved with people
  • Easily hurt by disapproval or criticism
  • Lacks close friendships
  • Displays excessive restraint in intimate relationships
  • Unwilling to take risks and/ or try new things due to fear of embarrassment
  • Feels socially inept, inferior, or unappealing to others 

The onset of avoidant behaviors usually occurs in infancy or early childhood and manifests as isolation, shyness, and avoidance of new people and/ or new places. It is typical for children to be shy, and while most grow out of this behavior in time, those who develop avoidant personality disorder become increasingly timid as time passes. It is important to note that not all young people that exhibit one or more of the above examples necessarily has avoidant personality disorder. If there is concern that your teen may be struggling with any kind of mental health illness in relation to their shyness it may be advantageous to obtain professional guidance. 

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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