Finding the courage to talk to people and hang out with other people isn’t always easy for our teens. Being in a social situation can be hard, and cause many feelings of social anxiety to emerge.
As an adult, it can be a bit easier to understand and recognize the signs of social anxiety. When it comes to your teen, it’s important to help them deal and understand those feelings and emotions.
You can help your teen(or tween) with social anxiety by trying a few of these simple suggestions.
How to help your teen with social anxiety
Help your teen understand exactly what social anxiety means
Your teenager has probably heard that term before, but that doesn’t mean that they know what it actually means. To them, they may consider themselves social so how can they even have feelings of social anxiety? That’s a valid question. Let them know that just because they are social doesn’t mean that they can’t have feelings of social anxiety. Different types of scenarios with different variances of people can cause anxiety issues to emerge as well.
Talk to your teen about taking time to themselves when in social situations
We’ve all been there, right? At a gathering with a ton of people and then suddenly, that feeling of claustrophobia starts to sit in or the room just suddenly feels very heavy and almost “out” of air. It’s those moments that are triggering feelings of social anxiety. Give your teen those examples and see if they can relate.
If you can give them real-life examples, it may be easier for them to process and understand. The next point to make after giving those examples is to then let them know that it’s perfectly fine to take some “alone” time, even at social gatherings. This can be as simple as going to the restroom alone or taking a short walk outside to get some fresh air. Anything that they can do that is safe and that will get them some space to calm their emotions a bit is always a good idea in terms of anxiety.
Let your teen know that they aren’t alone
Having social anxiety is actually quite common. People tend to feel this way when they’re in a large group, or in an unfamiliar setting surrounded by people that they don’t know. Sometimes, the feeling is faint and is easy to overcome and other times it takes a bit more time and effort.
The one thing that you need to truly communicate for certain to your teen about social anxiety is that they aren’t alone and shouldn’t feel that way. People tend to use words like “nervous” when they get around big groups of people, but that can also be another way that they are dealing with their own anxiety issues as well.
Last but not least, don’t downplay the feelings that your teen is having when it comes to social anxiety. If their feelings are really strong about not wanting to go somewhere or do something, then it shouldn’t be forced to happen. Forcing them to attend something that they don’t want to can cause their feelings of anxiety and stress to increase even more. It could cause their anxiety for social situations to become even stronger in the future.
Talk to them about the signs that they should be aware of for social anxiety and give them positive feedback and reinforcement about ways that they can combat it. You may find that they start taking baby steps to combat those feelings of social anxiety, but every step that they take forward is one step closer to overcoming it!
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