We promise you this – by the end of our article, you will learn a lot more about how to help your child overcome social anxiety disorder.
We are all aware that teenage is one of the most formative and crucial phases in the life of any individual.
As teens, even you must have experienced feelings of anxiousness or nervousness from time to time in the past.
However, if you suspect your teenager has social anxiety, it is important to know that there is hope.
Often, you may know they need help but you don’t know where to look.
The good news for parents who are facing such a situation right now is, this post covers all there is to know about social anxiety.
We have also listed down the ways in which you can identify if your young ones are dealing
with social anxiety.
Honestly, we understand just how emotionally exhausting living with social anxiety can be for adolescents.
This is why we have also included 5 expert strategies that will help your young ones a great deal in their battle with it.
These strategies are top-notch and can be easily incorporated into everyday lives.
We have faith that this article will serve as a guide for you and help you teach your teens to take control of their well-being.
What Is Social Anxiety?
Anxiety that is overpowering, constant, and triggered by everyday social interactions is a mental health condition that is known as Social Anxiety Disorder.
Being a teenager in the age of social media can be emotionally challenging for many.
During such times, it is really easy for your child to feel lost and alone.
Although it is easier for you to believe that everything is fine, deep down plenty of adolescents are fighting a constant battle.
If you are a parent who is worried about the sudden changes in their child’s behavior, read on to find out more about social anxiety and some of the best resources available to cope with it.
How Many Americans Battle Social Anxiety – Statistics & Facts.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, in the year 2020, approximately 15 million adults in The United States alone suffer from social anxiety.
In most cases, the symptoms begin to develop during the early teenage years.
This disorder disrupts the lives of nearly 9.1% of teenagers.
On an average, it has been observed that female adolescents are likelier to develop social anxiety as compared to their male counterparts.
Evidence collected over the years suggests that if left untreated, this disorder can turn into a chronic condition and negatively affect an individual’s life leading to functional impairment.
Identifying Social Anxiety Disorder.
In teenagers, social anxiety can present itself in different ways for different people.
It is justifiable for your youngster to feel a mild degree of anxiousness before certain social events like going out on a first date or addressing a huge crowd.
However, being terrified of these situations repeatedly and going to great lengths to avoid plans should set off warning bells.
As a parent, recognizing and acknowledging how social anxiety can present itself is a step in the right direction.
Social anxiety in teenagers can manifest itself in behavioral as well as physical symptoms.
Behavioral symptoms of social anxiety in teenagers include
Uncontrollable fear of facing strangers.
A desire to isolate oneself by dropping out of school, missing classes, and a general reluctance to participate in school activities due to the fear of being judged.
Constant feeling of being watched by everyone and being judged for saying the wrong thing in public.
Extreme sensitivity and the feeling of overwhelming doom when faced with criticism.
Debilitating anxiety or severe panic attacks at the thought of facing the situation that they may be trying to avoid.
In more severe cases, although rare, teens may experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It is extremely important to identify these feelings and not dismiss them.
Physical symptoms of social anxiety in teenagers include
Avoidance of eye contact when interacting with people.
Dry mouth or a shaky voice.
Shortness of breath that can cause an uneasy tightness in the chest.
Feelings of confusion or selective mutism, i.e., a situation where a person is unable to speak in social settings.
5 Expert-Backed Strategies And Tips On How To Help A Teenager With Social Anxiety.
We know that social anxiety can make simple tasks feel like a constant struggle for your child.
If your loved one is battling anxiety; it is key to let them know that they are not alone!
Studies have repeatedly shown that teenagers are least likely to ask for help.
Teens often hesitate to talk to an adult about their problem because they think that the people around them may not understand the intensity of the crippling anxiety that they face on a daily basis.
As a parent or a caregiver who believes that their teen is suffering from social anxiety, it is essential to approach the issue in a sensitive manner.
It is of utmost importance that you encourage your child to pour their heart out to a trusted adult that they have a strong relationship with.
This adult need not necessarily be you.
It can also be a grandparent, teacher, therapist, or school counselor.
Once you are successful in identifying the symptoms that your adolescent is facing, following the expert tips mentioned below can prove valuable for effectively managing the disorder.
1. Gradual exposure to social situations.
I am aware of how counterintuitive this sounds. The last thing you would want your loved one to do is put themselves in a social situation that can serve as a trigger for anxiety.
Systematic desensitization is a type of behavioral therapy that has been used successfully to treat social anxiety.
While it is best to explore this option under guidance from a licensed mental health professional, starting small by gradual exposure to situations that are out of their comfort zone is a good start.
However, the emphasis here is on the word gradual.
For example, if going to restaurants having large crowds make your teen uncomfortable and set their mind racing, there is no need for them to completely omit social events that involve eating out.
Teach your child to set milestones for themselves. Encourage them to start small by heading out to a local café to grab a coffee.
Sitting down and soaking in their surroundings while they finish the beverage, is also a small victory.
Progressively, ask them to set out larger goals like ordering a sandwich along with the coffee to help them spend more time in public or visiting the café during peak hours.
Know that when your teen sets out to do things that make them mildly uncomfortable, it may feel scary at first.
Try to keep an optimistic mindset and train your young one to do the same.
Motivate them to approach every little milestone with all their strength and confidence.
Once they conquer the first task that they set out for themselves, it will serve as positive reinforcement and give them the courage to push themselves a little harder.
It is vital for you as well as your child to not get discouraged if they encounter failure initially.
They will achieve their set goals at some point and when they do, it will be a very rewarding experience for you and your young one.
2. Do not underestimate the power of breathing!
Since the most notable physical symptom of social anxiety is breathing difficulties, learning to teach your child to be mindful of their breathing patterns can prove especially helpful for teens.
Being anxious often produces a fight-or-flight response that can elevate the heart rate.
A great way for adolescents to start the day is by practicing deep breathing techniques.
While you can teach your child various ways to use breathing as a tool to calm anxiety, the best way to do this is by simply inhaling deeply through the nose for 4 seconds and holding the breath for a period of 7 seconds. At this point, they should feel their abdomen expand.
Next, exhale through the mouth for 8 seconds while keeping the muscles relaxed. This is known as the 4-7-8 technique.
With practice, they can employ this strategy even in social settings like a classroom, a party or, any event that serves as a potential trigger.
3. In with the positive, out with the negative.
As humans, we all have a voice inside our mind. This voice often follows a narrative.
For teens with social anxiety, this narrative is often negative and is chipping away at their self-esteem one thought at a time.
Often, youngsters with anxiety deal with what we call catastrophic thinking.
In such cases, it is important to realize that their imagination is far worse than the situation at hand.
Whenever you catch your loved one in this faulty thought pattern; it is necessary to intervene at once.
Teach them to recognize the thought that they are currently having by taking a moment to ask themselves whether it is a positive and helpful one or a negative and irrational one.
If the answer is the latter, ask them to replace the negative thought with a more positive thought.
For example, instead of saying “I hate speaking in public because I know I will blank out and my classmates will mock me.” teach them to try being gentler on themselves by replacing that thought.
Substitute it with a more positive sentence like “I am good at public speaking. I know I can give a great talk without blanking out.”
4. Stop chasing perfectionism.
Teenagers are often in a race, striving for perfection.
The ever-increasing popularity of social media has only intensified the pressure to be perfect at all times.
They find themselves constantly comparing their lives to what they see on these platforms.
Teens with social anxiety feel their self-esteem dwindling, one Instagram post at a time.
Unfortunately, it is impossible for humans to gain total control of their feelings, emotions, and life.
As much as your young teen would like to plan their life perfectly and resist being caught in an unexpected social situation that they are not prepared for, it is difficult to live like that.
The faster you as a parent teach them the art of learning to go with the flow, the stronger they will get.
Every child has flaws and imperfections. It is essential to let your teen know that it is okay to be average.
A perfect life is just a myth.
5. Show them how far they have come.
Being a teen is stressful enough by itself.
Adding social anxiety to the equation makes it considerably harder for your child to be able to identify the times when they have dealt successfully with a situation that was difficult for them.
Coach them to ease up on themselves and learn to celebrate every little challenge that they tackle successfully.
Keep reinforcing every positive thought that they have and eventually, these thoughts will come to them naturally.
Remind yourself and your young one every day that practice is key.
They can train themselves to overcome these anxiety-provoking thoughts with time, effort, and a lot of patience.
Taking baby steps in the right direction today will ensure a healthier and happier tomorrow for your teen!
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Disclaimer: Please note that all articles are not a substitute to visiting a mental health professional. All articles, videos and ebooks have a entertaining purpose only. Self-diagnosing anxiety or any other disorder can be extremely dangerous. We highly recommend seeing a professional if you feel overwhelmed or anxious.
Copyright @ RelieveAnxietyNow.com 2020