Social phobia or social anxiety disorder is more than just shy behavior. Whether you have noticed your child suffering from anxiety shaking or irregular behavior, you should seek professional help with us for social anxiety in children. There is a big difference in shyness vs. social anxiety. Social anxiety can result in paralyzed feelings when children try to perform daily activities. It can hinder their ability to excel in school, sports, hobbies, and day-to-day life.
If you’re wondering, “How to help a teenager with anxiety,” you’ve come to the right place. We know all about social anxiety in children. Helping teens with anxiety can be done. There are certain coping strategies parents can teach to help ease social anxiety in their teenager.
Shyness vs. Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder goes beyond experiencing basic nerves while interacting with others. It is also much more than a fear of meeting new people or making new friends. The disorder is characterized by an intense fear that can be hard to describe to those who have not felt it for themselves.
The intense fear can take over your child’s mind when they face social interactions, and even while they just think about them, particularly an upcoming event. Social anxiety in children can make children want to avoid occurrences or situations where they have to interact with others. With teamwork and interactions at the core of school, work, sports, and many hobbies, it can be miserable for teenagers with a social anxiety disorder to cope during their daily life.
The disorder can even translate to alone time when thinking about future interactions takes over their mind. Whereas shy children may have a hard time at first, they can usually adapt and be comfortable with others in a reasonable time.
Social Anxiety in Teenagers and Children
If you think your child is exhibiting signs of social anxiety, you can be a massive help to their lives by bringing them in for a visit with us at Worldwide Pediatrics Group. As a parent, noticing symptoms and triggers of their child’s anxiety are the first steps for helping.
As a parent, you can help your child find solutions and overcome anxiety shaking. You do not have to face this challenge alone; Worldwide Pediatrics Group is here to support you and your child through battling mental health. A variety of situations can trigger the disorder in various activities. Parents should lookout for the following when determining social anxiety in a teenager and if they are affected by shyness vs. social anxiety:
- Reading aloud
- If your child has difficulty reading aloud or avoids participating in class, they may be struggling with social anxiety disorder. If your child has not opened up to you, maybe reach out to your child’s teachers and ask about their classroom behavior, especially if you have noticed other signs of anxiety at home.
- Speaking in front of others
- Say a big presentation or project is coming up at your child’s school. Maybe they have expressed to you or showed prominent stressful signs while practicing at home.
- Scared to be evaluated by others
- Perhaps your child wants to try out for a play or sports league. However, the idea of having to try out and be evaluated by another person makes them feel crippled with anxiety. They may even decide not to participate in something they wanted to if there is a try-out involved.
- They avoid speaking with people they are not used to
- This can be seen when your child meets new people. Maybe you brought your child along to the coffee shop with you and bumped into an old friend and their child. When you introduced them to your child, they may have seemed uncomfortable.
- Fear of disappointing others
- This point is more than the attributes of a people pleaser. A child with a social anxiety disorder may have a deep fear of offending others. This could be that your child is worried about possible confrontations or further conflict. If you notice your child repeatedly bringing up or worrying about a past moment where they think they may have upset someone, this could be a telling sign.
- Expressing fear or disinterest in social situations
- Say there is an upcoming dance or special event that may make other children excited to participate. The idea of interacting or being around many individuals would stress out a teenager with social anxiety disorder. At the same time, a child with the disorder may be disinterested in play dates. Family reunions may even be uncomfortable because the idea of seeing relatives they do not often socialize with or thinking about all the impending questions can overwhelm a child with the disorder.
Whether you have noticed some or many of the signs above in your child, you can get a medical evaluation to make your child’s life more manageable. They shouldn’t feel in constant fear of going about their daily lives. Socializing is a monumental part of human nature, and this skill set must be nurtured at a young age for success and independence later in their lives. If a child goes without treatment for social anxiety disorder, they may find it difficult to find work or grow relationships with other people later in life.
Helping Teens with Anxiety
If you’re wondering “how to help a teenager with anxiety,” you may at first feel overwhelmed. Maybe you have seen your child suffer from anxiety shaking, or panic attacks. No parent wants to see their child suffer and to help your child, you have to understand what they’re going through. It can be painful for parents to understand their child’s disorder because it is an emotional matter. If you feel this way, it is important to remember you must be the brave one and set a confident example for your child.
You can help your child understand the root of their anxiety by detecting the triggers and explaining the psychology behind social anxiety in simple, easy-to-understand terminology. Also, one of the best ways for helping teens with anxiety is to develop coping mechanisms for them and to seek out healthcare and therapy.
- Relaxation Methods
- Have you ever heard about taking a deep breath? Of course, we all have, but taking deep breaths can go a long way when it comes to slowing a racing heart. Teach your child to envision a circle in front of them while they breathe. As they breathe in, half the circle fills up, and as they breathe out, the circle is completed. Using their imagination like this can also distract them from their nerves.
- You can teach your child progressive muscle relaxation. Instruct them to make a fist and slowly release while they face high-stress encounters. Let them ‘shake out’ the nerves by moving their muscles like waving, raising, or moving their arms and legs.
- Cognitive Reframing
- Children with anxiety tend to think about the worst-case scenario, or that other people see them through a negative lens. Help your child by instructing them to change negative thinking into the positive version. Ask them to consider the best situation or affirm them often.
- For example, maybe your child comes home worrying that their teacher thinks they are a terrible reader. Reframe their thinking by saying that their teacher cares about them and it is their job to help students excel. So, explain that the teacher isn’t picking on them. Say their teacher is trying to help them reach their full potential.
If you think your child may be suffering from social anxiety, schedule an appointment with us. We understand the journey of coping with and overcoming social anxiety, don’t let your child endure their anxiety alone.