7 Tips On How To Overcome Social Anxiety In Kids
by Kriti Gera,
Table Of Contents
- Where Does Social Anxiety Come From?
- Signs Of Social Anxiety In Kids
- Combating Social Anxiety In Kids
- 7 Tips To Combat Social Anxiety In Kids:
- 1. Exercise Regularly
- 2. Seek Professional Help
- 3. Teach Problem-solving Skills
- 4. Sit And Communicate With Them
- 5. Start Small
- 6. Focus On Progress, Not Perfection
- 7. Focus More On Practicing!
- Worried, What To Do Next?
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Studies have shown that social anxiety has been augmented in all age groups due to the outbreak of the pandemic. Children especially are forgetting how to respond to the outer world i.e. friends and families. In addition, there is no scope for extracurricular activities and playdates which is causing more social anxiety in kids. Going to school, participating in different types of activities encouraged children to be social in many ways. However, all these things were hindered due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
It would be tough to go back to normal life and start interacting with strangers and even working in groups and reuniting with families.
It is not easy to identify the source of Social anxiety in children. Study shows it can also be developed from the mother. If the mother tends to have a social anxiety disorder then the child is likely to have the same disorder.
Genetics also causes social anxiety. Certain genes show traits of fear of being judged and causing inhibition to participate in the events. Homelife and the nearby environment can exaggerate the risk factors of social anxiety. It is important to keep an eye on children and help them to overcome social anxiety from childhood itself. If it persists for longer, then it might cause some major mental disorders in the long run.
Social anxiety causes feelings of fear and panic. It occurs only in certain situations. For adults, it means avoiding groups, or large crowds. Social anxiety can show up much earlier in life. In children, social anxiety will look much different as compared to adults.
Social anxiety looks similar to shyness and separation anxiety. There is no specific age bar when symptoms of social anxiety start to appear. It is very common in preschool or other social settings. However, parents are sometimes not able to identify this on time.
These behaviors are stressful for parents. Kids aren't generally able to communicate clearly and express their emotions, which causes them distress. Parents may worry their child is in pain or that they have done something wrong. As children grow into teenagers, their social anxiety may appear in other ways. It may be easier to understand what is causing stress in their life. However, knowing how to deal with a socially anxious child can still be challenging.
Punishing a child with signs of social anxiety can have the opposite effect of what is intended. Children who are punished for anxiety-rooted behavior may “close off” from their parents. One study showed that harsh parenting may cause children to become even more anxious. It also led to a lowered neural processing ability in preschool.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety are listed below and it varies from age:
- Fear of new things
- Fear of being in front of the class
- Worry about being judged by others
- Refusal to participate in activities or school
- Fear of speaking to adults
- Fear of having friends visit
- Fear of reading aloud or answering questions in class
- Irritability, crying or whining
- Refusing to speak
- Sleep disorders
As a parent of a socially anxious child, it can be hard to recognize how best to offer your support. It's important to manage your child's social anxiety constructively. Children with social anxiety always feel low but they are not able to determine the reason for this unusual behavior but they fail to give it a name. Helping them connect the dots between emotional responses, physical symptoms, and triggers is an important step toward learning to cope with fears of social anxiety. Educating and creating awareness in your child about how anxiety impacts thinking and behavior is a powerful lesson in learning to work through negative emotions.
Here are 7 best tips on how to overcome social anxiety in kids.
1. Exercise Regularly
The physical symptoms of social anxiety include increased heart rate, dizziness, and muscle tension.
Breathing slower and more deeply from the stomach signals the nervous system to calm down. However, deep breathing takes practice—it won’t be immediately helpful.
Trying different breathing patterns, being mindful, and having peer support can help improve the exercise hence reducing the social anxiety symptoms in kids. It physically provides calmness to the body and soul. Sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste -- children's senses can help calm them down at the moment when they are feeling anxious.
For some children, looking at a favorite childhood photograph or smelling their favorite flower works. Therefore, the next time your child starts to feel anxious about a social situation, try tuning them to their favorite song, make them have their favorite chocolate, dance together to their favorite song, or ask them to snuggle with their pet.
2. Seek Professional Help
If social anxiety disorder negatively affects your child’s ability to attend school, socialize with peers in society. Otherwise, social anxiety affects other areas of functioning. Don't shy away in seeking consultation from a licensed mental health professional. The good news is that social anxiety can be easily overcome with on-demand consultation and guidance and children can learn to cope with their symptoms and implement strategies that work across a wide variety of settings.
3. Teach Problem-solving Skills
Children with social anxiety disorders tend to become masters of avoidance and denial. They do what they can to avoid engaging in situations that cause the most anxiety. While this might seem like the path of least resistance, it can actually make social anxiety worse over time.
Teach your child to work through feelings and emotions of fear and anxiety by developing problem-solving skills. If a child fears public speaking, for example, the child can learn to practice several times at home in front of a mirror, have someone videotape the same, and show them back. Help your child identify his/her triggers and problems and brainstorm potential problem-solving strategies to work through those triggers.
4. Sit And Communicate With Them
Converse with your child about social anxiety. Help your child understand that feeling anxious is normal. Talk about the times you’ve felt anxious and what you’ve done to overcome those feelings. Instead of feeding the fearful behaviors, it can be more easily helpful when parents give enthusiastic praise when children try something new. Tell your child about times you’ve felt anxious in social situations and how you’ve overcome those fears. This will help him understand that it’s absolutely 'OK' to talk about anxious feelings. This way, the child will feel that you understand and support them.
5. Start Small
Don’t jump into big social situations directly. Schedule restaurant meals with friends or family members so the child can get used to eating in public.
Try helping your child go out of their way to make eye contact with people on the street or at the grocery store and say hello. If someone starts a conversation with them, ask them to put up questions to the other person about their hobbies or favorite places to travel.
6. Focus On Progress, Not Perfection
Social anxiety is always heavily connected to perfectionism. Fear of failure in any activity, fear of looking bad in front of friends, or fear of not meeting a goal, etc, all contribute heavily to a child’s anxious feelings surrounding a situation. Help your child to focus on the process of the task instead of the goal and the results. Engage them with talking about how fun it is to play new sports, and how much you love to hear them practicing new things on their own.
Childhood is an excellent time to reinforce learning about the growth mindset and making the child learn how making mistakes is a part of the process. Show them your own mistakes, and how much more you’ve learned from your mistakes and improved yourself before reaching the final goal.
Remind them of the power of “yet.” You’re not an expert YET, and your child isn’t an expert fiddler YET.
7. Focus More On Practicing!
"Practice is the goal" is a mantra you can use in your home. Finding comfort in the practice, and taking joy in the journey are cliches that have actual value - reminding them to ENJOY the process instead of focusing on the goal. By doing this, you stretch out your happiness, because it isn’t just limited to the few minutes of excitement when you reach a goal. Instead, you’re enthusiastic about the entire process because you see your progress and delight in the doing.
Hope these 7 ways can help your child to overcome challenging situations and social anxiety in many environments and live a healthy life.
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