Helping Kids Through Social Anxiety

According to the ADA, around one in eight children suffer from anxiety disorders. One of the most common disorders is social anxiety, which is characterized by a feeling of being uncomfortable in social settings. This anxiety can be triggered by negative evaluations and judgment from other people. As a result, anxious kids often avoid interacting with people in public.

One of the most important differences between social anxiety and shyness is that the former is a disorder while the latter is a personality trait. For instance, shy kids may not exhibit negative feelings and can warm up to people around them.

However, being around other people can be very distressing for kids with social anxiety. They avoid social settings entirely due to their fear of being judged.

Signs and Symptoms

Different kids have different symptoms. For instance, some kids with social anxiety may have difficulty speaking, sweating, and nausea. On the other hand, others may have negative thinking patterns, such as assuming that other people are thinking negatively about them.

For kids with social anxiety, socializing is often a goal, but they avoid social situations altogether due to their fears of being judged and their performance. In addition, they may exhibit aggressive behavior when they are around other people. This condition can also manifest in school events and extracurricular activities.

How to Help

Teaching your kids coping techniques can help them manage their social anxiety. Some of these include positive self-talk, deep breathing, and grounding.

While encouraging your child to face anxiety-provoking situations, try to validate their feelings. Explain to them that they are anxious and that you will help them cope with the stressor. This can be done without reinforcing avoidance. For instance, you can tell them that you are confident that they can handle the stressor by communicating their confidence in their ability to do so.

Consider Therapy

If your child is struggling with social anxiety, you might want to seek professional help. A child therapist can help them develop coping skills and manage their condition. They can also help them discard negative thinking patterns.

By gradually exposing them to more social situations, they can learn to face their fears without avoiding them. This will help them develop their confidence in being able to interact with others.

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