Cultural background: my family and I live in the Midwestern US.
My wife and I have a five-year-old daughter who seems to have a morbid fear of 'other kids laughing at (her)'. Previously she would mention this whenever she was feeling shy, but since she's generally a sociable and out-going child I've never overly worried about it.
But lately it seems to impact her well-being every time she has to do anything in front of a crowd. She recently graduated from pre-k and the kids did a little song-and-dance routine, she just stood there with her head down. Although she's been in karate class for a year at the latest session she was very uncooperative. At church this past weekend she was happily playing with the other kids until it was time to sing their song and dance and she just stood there. Six months ago this child was belting out the Frozen soundtrack at the top of her lungs for the entertainment of the neighborhood kids. When asked about these issues she replied with her "I'm shy because I'm afraid people will laugh at me' line.
I don't know where this is coming from, because to the best of my knowledge she's never been laughed at. Asking her why she thinks anyone would laugh at her when no one has done so does not yield any sort of answer (part of irrational fears is that they are just that: irrational). I can only assume that she picked it up from television where snarky dialogue and personal embarrassment are par for the course.
As the question title and background I just gave may indicate, I'm a little skeptical that this situation is a legitimate fear as stated by the child. Is she really that socially anxious in certain situations (but her usual cheery self with small groups of adults and other children)? If not what's going on? If so, how do I assuage her fears?
Most of what I could find online about social anxiety was (unsurprisingly) geared towards teenagers with their greater emphasis on peer relationships, not five-year-olds who still more or less orbit their parent's star.
Thanks for any help!
Thanks for all the great answers, wish I could accept more than one!