Parenting a child that struggles with social anxiety can be difficult to manage. Social anxiety in kids, if left untreated, is likely to develop them into teenagers and adults that avoid social interaction and withdraw themselves from many social situations.
As their parents, it is important that you assist in working through social anxiety in children, as maintaining healthy social habits is a valuable part of life.
There are many different ways in which parents can aid in encouraging to overcome, or at least manage, social anxiety in children.
So here are 5 effective ways to help children overcome social anxiety and teach kids how to deal with social anxiety
1. Offer a helping hand
Helping your child overcome social anxiety starts by offering them a helping hand. When your child struggles with social anxiety, they are likely to feel very lonely.
There are a number of reasons why social anxiety in children may develop, including past experiences or environments, maladaptive behavior, physical triggers, neurology, etc.
Different causes may have your child unintentionally isolating themselves from others, both at school and at home. Be patient with them and do not force them to partake in any activity they are uncomfortable with, but always encourage them to engage.
You should remind your child that you are always there for them and that they should always feel comfortable coming to you when they are struggling with their anxiety.
Being reassured that they have someone to trust might encourage them to build social relationships with others they trust too. Offer to be a helping hand when they need it, but also teach them to be independent.
2. Teach problem-solving skills
Social anxiety in children often makes them masters of avoidance. By actively avoiding engaging in activities that trigger their anxiety, they actually can cause their symptoms to worsen over time.
By helping them develop problem-solving skills, you are teaching them to work through the feelings of fear and anxiety.
One of the best ways to help in building these skills is by having them practice being in certain situations that make them nervous and coaching them through strategies to calm their nerves.
3. Teach relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques are a positive tool to have when feeling anxious or overwhelmed. If someone is experiencing intense physical symptoms of anxiety, learning to calm the anxious response they are having is one of the first steps in learning to adopt other coping strategies.
Teaching them simple tasks like counting to ten and deep breathing will allow them to center their focus and slowly escape the anxiety inducing thoughts.
More advanced relaxation techniques could include daily exercise, yoga or meditating. These types of activities promote extended mindfulness and relaxation, which can positively impact social anxiety in children with continued practice.
4. Consider medication
In some cases, social anxiety in children is not easily managed by simple techniques or learned behaviors. Many parents have turned to their children’s doctors for advice and are often open to the idea of prescribing their children medication that will help with the anxiety-induced stress.
There are many prescription medications on the market, most commonly SSRIs, that are used to treat children’s anxiety.
However, with the desire for more natural methods of healing, CBD, or cannabidiol, is becoming increasingly more popular among parents who are looking for ways to help treat their children.
CBD is the natural compound found in cannabis, which offers many therapeutic benefits. With its ability to lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate and induce a sense of calm, it is more closely being researched as a natural alternative to prescription medications used to treat anxiety symptoms.
5. Seek professional help
Considering a mental health professional is never a bad idea, even if your child is having success with some or all of the methods mentioned previously in this article.
Although both parents are likely to be highly involved in the aiding of their children’s anxiety struggles, having a third party to assess and provide non-bias opinions and advice can be an added bonus.
By being professionally trained to evaluate different types of social situations and anxiety triggers, a therapist may have other tricks they use to encourage their patients to want to overcome their fears.
Raising a child with social anxiety can create stress on a family, or on a marriage, but realizing that there are a handful of recommended treatment methods and taking charge of learning to manage the anxiety is moving one step in the right direction.
Social anxiety is a struggle for many people but is especially tough when you have to witness your child deal with the symptoms and the increased fear it brings them in certain situations.
As parents, we want nothing but happiness for our children, so remaining a consistent partner for them during their struggles and their steps toward treatment is one of the best ways we can show our support.