Social anxiety disorder is an intense fear of being judged. Research says that this disorder affects approximately 7 percent of the American adult population and above 75 percent of people experience their first symptoms from ages 11 to 19.
This indicates that social anxiety develops from an early age, and it’s your responsibility as a parent or a child caregiver to identify the signs and symptoms to help your child. Social anxiety disorder can cause children fear of being rejected or judged negatively by others. They are more than just a little nervous in social situations.
Separating social anxiety from usual childhood shyness can be confusing. If you’re concerned that your child is avoiding things they want to do—like attending birthday celebrations, making new friends, or speaking up in front of a class–just because they are afraid of being embarrassed, for fear of what other people may think of them, they are probably suffering from social anxiety. Shyness is a short-term problem that goes away in a few days, however, social anxiety is persistent and can disrupt lives.
How to Help Your Child Handle Social Anxiety?
Children often hide their social anxiety, so you might not realize that something is wrong. But if you notice symptoms like sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, racing heart, shaky voice, and getting upset long before getting into a certain situation, they need your help.
It can be heartbreaking to see your child struggle, but here are a few ways you can help them manage their social anxiety before it worsens.
- Educate Your Child About Social Anxiety
Your child needs to know what’s happening. Converse with your child and help them understand that feeling anxious is OK. But, don’t promise your child that “nothing bad will happen.” You’ve to teach your child how to handle negative social life situations as well.
Openly talk to them about how anxiety exists to keep you safe if something bad happens and it can be harnessed to recognize bad situations. Admit your own experiences with anxiety, do things that made you anxious once in front of your child and teach them how you overcame it. Anxiety shouldn’t be brushed off as absurd. Motivate your child to share their worries and other thoughts. By recognizing the concern, children have a clear grasp of why they are anxious and how to respond.
- Teach Your Child Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation strategies can help tremendously with social anxiety. Deep breathing and muscle relaxation, beginning with the neck and shoulders, can help your child stay calm. Your child can also acquire the skills to divert their focus away from anxiety triggers.
With an anxiety disorder, it is essential to take out some time to relax and unwind. Inspire your child to exercise and engage in enjoyable hobbies like drawing, instrument playing, writing, or crafts. If symptoms of social anxiety persist or become severe enough just to hinder your child’s capacity to perform, expert advice may be required.
- Don’t Fight Your Child’s Battles
As a parent, you may not be able to control yourself from saving your child in social situations. For example, at times, you may find yourself answering questions on behalf of your child. If the school principal says “hello,” and asks your child their name, you may be prompt to answer: “Her name is Jennifer.” You may do this unknowingly to protect your child from any discomfort, but you must realize that this may eventually intensify the disorder.
Try not to rush in to rescue your child every time they struggle. Let them experience the anxiety. You can prepare them beforehand with relaxation techniques, strategies, and emotional control. You are sensitive regarding your child, but if you let your child deal with it, they will learn to manage their feelings when such interaction occurs, and you’re not around.
- Show Encouragement, Not Frustration
Try to empathetically relate to your child’s worry, not with annoyance, frustration, and harshness. Your child will fail, encounter anxiety, and go through some unpleasant feelings. You can assist them through emotional coaching, teach them to identify and accept their emotions.
Politely converse with your child: “You seem nervous, everything good?” or “I sometimes feel uncomfortable too while speaking with strangers.” Avoid statements like, “Don’t behave like a baby,” and “Why can’t you just do it? Look at your brother. It was so simple for him.” This can be hard for them. The sooner you accept it and help them work through it, the better!
The Bottom Line
If you think your child is suffering from social anxiety, book an appointment with Houston OCD Counseling therapy professionals. We’ve experts from all walks of life, and we understand the journey of coping and overcoming social anxiety.
With our counseling treatments, your child can overcome their worries and participate in life more fully without fear. Trust us that we won’t let your child suffer.