Raising children can be complicated and confusing, especially when they are in the adolescence stages. This is a time of change, both physically and emotionally and they are most vulnerable during these years. It’s not uncommon for adolescents to defy rules, try out new things and challenge everything you try to teach them.
Behavior issues are not uncommon among this age group. Unfortunately, neither is social anxiety. In fact, social anxiety is among the most common mental disorders in adolescents, according to a report by the NCBI. The report goes onto saying that social anxiety can start as early as age 5.
So, what do you do as a parent of an adolescent who has symptoms of social anxiety? Here are some tips:
1. Understand What Social Anxiety Is
The first step to helping your child is being able to relate to him/her. Understanding what your child is going through will hold you in good stead when communicating with them. Although anxiety may be based on illogical fears, avoid telling them that they’re being irrational. Remember, these fears are very real and traumatic for your child.
2. Seek Help from a Professional
It’s difficult to know if your child has social anxiety. After all, fear of rejection and being self-conscious at times are normal parts of adolescence. If you’re having trouble understanding your child’s emotions and behaviors, consider seeking help. And if you’re certain your child is suffering from social anxiety, don’t take it lightly. If left untreated, social anxiety can prevent your child from enjoying a wholesome life as an adult, says Linda Charnes, a leading psychotherapist in New York.
3. Help Your Child Relax
The best antidote for anxiety is relaxation. You may not think it’s connected, but relaxing activities can help them take a break from difficult situations and manage their anxiety. Encourage them to participate in relaxing activities like sketching, dancing, swimming, learning a craft and yoga, says an article published on the Verywell Mind site.
4. Be a Good Listener
To develop good communication and help your child manage anxiety, give them an environment where they can speak their minds and be candid, says an article published by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Don’t downplay their emotions and avoid making suggestions for every problem they discuss with you. Instead, allow them to describe their problems and encourage them to find their own answers.
5. Help Develop Social Skills
While it’s important for parents to stop pushing their children to be social, you can certainly help them develop better social skills. Work with your child to improve their body language, like making eye contact or smiling when speaking to people. This will help build their confidence.
Your help means the world to your child. Nonetheless, we recommend consulting an expert to deal with social anxiety. This can affect your child’s diet, grades at school and relationships as an adult. So, contact an experienced therapist for help.