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Social Support: 4 Tips for Parenting a Child with Social Anxiety

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Social anxiety is one of the most common issues children face during their school careers. The pressure to fit in and be like everyone else is often overwhelming for some kids. As common as this issue is, however, it needs to be addressed if your child suffers from it as it can prevent them from exploring new things and taking risks – both of which are necessary for kids to grow and reach their highest potential. 

Luckily, by working together and adopting the tips below, you and your child can formulate a plan to deal with social anxiety. 

Connect on an emotional level with your child

When your child is feeling anxious, letting them know that you understand how they’re feeling goes a long way toward helping them feel less stressed about the situation. For example, if you know they’re worried about an upcoming test, you might begin by asking some questions to encourage them to open up about their worries. 

While there are plenty of fantastic services offering online tutoring for high school students, it’s crucial to ask your child about their worries before leaping in with solutions. Once you get them talking freely and feeling that you’re on their side, they’ll feel more confident that you can work together to find a solution.  

Talk about social anxiety

Stress and anxiety are natural and important emotions that alert us to unsafe or unpleasant situations. We are capable of these feelings for a reason – they have helped our ancestors survive for centuries. Unfortunately, our minds can get “stuck” in stressful loops, causing us to dwell on and overthink certain situations. When you help your child understand why anxiety happens, you can begin to help them reprogram their brain away from it in times of stress. 

One of the most effective ways to do this is to practice or model the situation with/for your child. Show them how you deal with similar situations, and work together to come up with strategies for handling those overpowering emotions. This will help your child get through the anxiety when the time comes. 

Focus on progress

Overcoming anxiety is a learning process. It won’t happen overnight, but with a little encouragement and praise for the progress your child makes, they will gain the confidence they need to keep forging on. 

Fear of looking bad in front of peers, fear of not being perfect, and fear of rejection are all real issues for school-aged children. Help your child overcome these fears by placing an emphasis on their progress rather than their ultimate goals. While it’s important to have big goals and dreams to strive for, these become far more achievable if you celebrate small milestones along the way.  

Take a step back

A well-meaning parent hovering over the shoulder of an anxious child can be nerve-wracking and unsettling because the child can feel the parents’ own anxiety. Taking a step back and letting your child experience the situation on their own with the tools you (and their therapist, if you’re open to it) have taught them is often the best approach. 

On the other hand, it’s okay to step in if you feel your child is overwhelmed or having a panic attack. Remove them from the situation, and give them a short break to remember the coping skills they’ve learned. 

Social anxiety is a common problem among school-aged children. There’s a lot of pressure to fit in and do well, which can be overwhelming for some children. By adopting the advice above, you can help your child deal with social anxiety and thrive.

Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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