When it comes to social anxiety, it can be difficult for anyone to deal with. For teens who are supposed to be social, gregarious beings, it can be especially hard. And for parents to watch their teens deal with social anxiety they can feel helpless because they cannot fix the situation alone. But, once teens receive a proper diagnosis and are undergoing recommended treatment, there are things that parents can help their teens with when they notice they are struggling with their social anxiety.
Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common anxiety disorders to affect teenagers, according to Polaris Teen Center. Nearly one in three teens between the ages of 13 to 18 years of age is affected. Those who have social anxiety disorder will do their best to avoid social interactions at all costs. And when they have to deal with a social situation, there are feelings of “nausea, trembling, sweating, or blushing” that will occur, per the publication. What is worse is that teens recognize that their feelings are not warranted for the situation and that can make those feeling exacerbated even more still.
Here is how parents can help teens with social anxiety.
6 Help Them With Breathing Exercises
The overwhelming anxiety that teens with social anxiety can experience can get out of hand quickly if there are no coping mechanisms in place. One very easy one parents can help their teens with is breathing exercises.
According to WebMD, social anxiety can make the rate at which teens breathe become shallow and rapid in a short period. This can lead to dizziness and make teens feel like they cannot catch their breath.
Parents can encourage teens to sit down, close their eyes, and take breaths that go in through the nose and out through the mouth, per the publication. By doing this, they focus on their breathing, not the social situation at hand, and can calm their anxiety enough to potentially engage with others.
5 Encourage Them To Think Positively About Themselves
It is very easy to get into a vicious cycle of negative self-talk when dealing with social anxiety disorder. Therefore, to help teens gain power over their anxiety, practicing flipping the scripts on self-degrading comments may help to do that.
According to AnxietyHub, when teens can think about themselves in a positive light, they can reduce their social anxiety symptoms. Therefore, by parenting teens to help them see how much progress they made, or speaking highly of how willing they have been to try to immerse themselves in social situations may be encouragement they need to begin to see themselves not as a victim of their social anxiety but as someone who is battling it head-on instead. And when they see it this way, teens will see that they are conquering their social anxiety rather than letting it control them.
4 Help Build Coping Skills Through Desensitization
Sometimes, social anxiety fears need to be faced head-on. And because this can be scary for teens to do alone, they will need a supportive figure or two in their lives to help them through this process.
According to Healthline, the way that desensitization works is through the use of relaxation techniques and exposure work. Teens will use their coping skills to face social situations that cause them a small amount of anxiety, gradually building up to experiences that cause large amounts of anxiety.
Desensitization is a gradual process. There may be times that it becomes too much and teens will have to abandon the social situation they are trying to face. Not only is this okay, per the publication, but it is normal. As long as they are consistently trying and not giving up, progress is being made.
3 Determine A Goal To Achieve
By having a goal to work towards, teens know that if they commit to the work necessary to cope with social anxiety, they can achieve things previously thought to be impossible. And if parents can encourage their teens as milestones are made towards achieving those goals, teens are less likely to give up on their goals.
According to Psychreg, having a small amount of anxiety when trying to achieve a goal is necessary for some to be successful. It is the ways in which that anxiety is harnessed that will determine success or not. Therefore, if teens can use their relaxation exercises to make steps, not matter how small, to their goal, they are being successful. And when parents remind them of this success and cheer them on along the way, the easier it will be for teens to take on a feat that may have once seemed impossible.
2 Listen To Teen’s Feelings
One of the most important things that parents can do for their teens with social anxiety is to listen to them. If teens are willing to share how they feel, it means that they are potentially getting more comfortable dealing with their social anxiety. And that is a big step in the right direction.
According to Child Mind Institute, it can be easy for parents to initially brush off what teens are trying to explain about social anxiety as something every teen deals with when dealing with unfamiliar situations. However, when parents hear teens are having a hard time going out in public and do not want to do anything social because their body has negative physical reactions, parents need to take notice.
Once parents have taken their teens to be evaluated and are receiving therapy of one kind or another, just listening to what teens have to say can not only help parents understand what teens are feeling but can show their support at the same time. And by doing this, teens can work their way through social anxiety knowing they have support at home.
1 Find Support Groups
Sometimes, parents just will not understand what it is that their teens are feeling. And because of this, teens should be encouraged to find a support group.
According to GoodRx Health, when teens with social anxiety seek out a support group, they quickly learn that they are not alone with their social anxiety. Instead, they get the satisfaction of knowing that their experiences can help others, per the publication. Teens also can speak with other teens in ways that they are understood on a different level than those without social anxiety.
As such, if recommended by doctors to seek out a support group, it is highly encouraged teens attempt to go, regardless of how difficult it may initially be. It will be worth it in the end.
Study suggests that there might be a link between complications during childbirth and social anxiety in children later on in their lives.
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