Guest Post by IsabelWilliam
Growing up and maturing can be an extremely stressful and challenging period in everyone’s life. You are getting in touch with different life situations for the first time, and your personality will depend on the way you deal with this. It is not an uncommon situation that children develop social anxiety in this period, whether because of their experiences in school or any other environment. But, don’t worry about it because there are many effective ways to deal with this problem, and we are going to suggest some you can try.
Support them by showing empathy
Children, as well as adults, are looking for a sign that you too have been in a similar situation at some point in your life, whether because of meeting new people, talking in front of large groups or feeling shy around peers. It is important to share those experiences with your child because they will see that it happens to everyone and that it isn’t that bad, because you have managed to deal with it. Acknowledging their feelings will make them feel important, and it will be easier for them to cope with it. These talks and examples are a good way of dealing with it at home because that is where they feel safe and will hear what you are saying.
Boost their self-esteem
Building self-esteem is one of the best ways to outgrow social anxiety. You can do this by praising your child for small steps they make. Going to the store and talking to people, answering the phone, or saying hi to neighbors are just some of the examples. You may think they are insignificant, but in the mind of someone who is dealing with social anxiety, this is a pretty big step that should be accompanied by feelings of pride. This will encourage them to do it again and again until they lose the bad feelings altogether. You can say that you are proud of them for making a change and that they did great.
Dealing with the school environment
Many children develop symptoms of social anxiety when they start school. This is why it is important to make this period easy for them. Some of the symptoms are being quiet and afraid to ask questions or having difficulty interacting with other students or teachers. This can become a problem in their social life, and affect their achievement in school. You can organize playdates or group homework activities out of school, so they will feel comfortable interacting with their peers in a relaxed atmosphere. If they need any help while studying, many places sell notes, so that you can be a part of their learning process and encourage them to get interested and ask questions. This will help them feel more relaxed and surer about their achievements.
Dealing with fears
Watching your child deal with a situation that makes them feel anxious is never easy. Being quiet, shy, and afraid of what everyone is going to think is something many parents have to protect their children from. When dealing with social anxiety, overprotectiveness is a bad method because you are teaching them to behave that way always, and after some time passes, it is even harder to kick that pattern of behavior. You definitely shouldn’t push your child into uncomfortable and unpleasant situations, but overprotectiveness is also not a solution. Instead, you can be there for them through the stressful period and advise them about what to do. Apply the small steps rule again and start from harmless situations leading to more serious ones to see how your child acts.
Teach them about their anxiety
Social anxiety is manageable; however, you don’t want to send a message that this is something horrible they have to run away from. Instead, teach them about it, in a subtle way. This means avoiding the use of words such as shy, or social anxiety. Also, try to talk about it in a positive tone and do so with your body language as well. Teach them that their reactions in certain situations are nothing to be ashamed of and that they are doing a great job. Again, support and encouragement are important!
Consider asking for help
Getting help in situations like this is not the worst thing in the world, although a parent might think so. Sometimes you as a parent don’t know how to deal with it, which is why professionals exist. The important thing is to ease your child into the whole treatment process because you don’t want them thinking they have a big, serious problem. You can ask help from counselors at school or a pediatrician who can direct you to a child psychologist. The great thing about this is that they will be able to suggest some practical exercises that can help with easing their anxiety. Make sure you are a part of the whole process so that your child will not feel alone.
Social anxiety can be a problem in early school years, especially because your child experiences some things for the first time. Being supportive, helping them with learning, and taking small steps towards their dealing with social anxiety is the key to their future success.
Isabel William is consultant by day and a blogger by night and Mom to twins 24/7. Area of interest includes education, well being, mental health, as well as self-improvement. Considered by her peers a lifetime educator, whose passion is love for writing and helping people, parenting, education and science.