Helping Kids With Social Anxiety
One of the more common forms of anxiety in children is social anxiety. This typically occurs when your child struggles to deal with social interactions, whether that is with people they know or not. This can make it hard for them to make friends, and can follow them as they get older as well. Here are some tips for helping kids who have social anxiety.
Know the Warning Signs
Before you can help your child with their social anxiety, you need to know if this is actually what they have. It is possible they are just introverted, where they prefer being alone in their thoughts, but don’t necessarily have an anxiety disorder. So here are some common signs of a child with social anxiety:
- They have been withdrawing from activities
- It is hard for them to make friends
- They have become uncomfortable talking to teachers
- Your child avoids eye contact or fidgets a lot when talking to someone
- They have trouble communicating even at gatherings with friends or family
If any of these sound familiar, your child might be struggling with social anxiety. Though you may want to talk to a counselor or child psychiatrist, since in many cases, shyness can be confused with actual social anxiety. They are often handled very differently.
Don’t Push Them Too Much
Once you know that your child has social anxiety, you can slowly start helping them work through it. The first thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to push them too much. This is really important, because just forcing them to interact with different people often makes the anxiety worse, not better. You don’t want them to avoid social situations forever, but to ease them into it gracefully. Have open communication with your child to discuss what they are struggling with and see if you can come up with a compromise they are comfortable with, but that leads them in the direction of dealing with their social anxiety.
Encourage One-on-One Activities
A good way to slowly help them face their fears and deal with social anxiety is to put them with someone else one-by-one. They might not feel comfortable speaking to someone in a group of people, but perhaps you can set up play dates with just one other child. Many children (and adults) with social anxiety do okay in smaller groups of people as opposed to parties.
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