Social anxiety can be challenging at the best of times, and it’s especially rough during the fragile and tumultuous teen years. As a parent, it’s normal to be concerned and want to help your child feel better, and the good news is that there are plenty of small, positive ways you can be a part of that journey.
Talk with your child
Sometimes the most obvious solutions are also the most effective. Before you go searching for information on anxiety, it’s important to have a discussion with your son or daughter and gauge how they’re feeling. You might find that they’re taking steps to manage their feelings independently, or that they already sought help from a professional. Whatever the case, having open conversations with your child is a great way to strengthen your bond and make them feel more comfortable sharing difficult feelings with you. Just keep in mind that hovering or acting in an overbearing manner will likely have the opposite effect.
Establish community connections
Tackling the problem head-on by helping your child forge connections with others, especially others with anxiety, kills several birds with one stone. Taking part in counseling groups is a great first step. Not only are you learning more about the condition by being around others in the same situation, but you’re also showing your support for your child as they take steps toward recovery.
If you’re particularly interested in understanding conditions like social anxiety and would like to broaden your horizons in this field, you also have the option of taking a course that deals with this subject matter. Whilst you might already be perfectly attuned to your child’s individual emotional wants and needs, knowing how to provide the correct (and objective) counsel in a given situation might not be immediately apparent to you. It is precisely this kind of assessment and guidance techniques that are disseminated in detail in the provided course curriculum and can be learned and then subsequently applied both in social encounters involving your child and those involving other people.
Learn relaxation techniques
One of the simplest ways you can help your teen manage their anxiety is to teach them a few practical techniques for managing and reducing stress. Sometimes achieving relaxation can be as simple as practicing deep breathing, counting, or even drawing. But for the moments when something more is needed, like meditation, visualization, or even attempting progressive muscle relaxation, you’ll be grateful for what you’ve learned.
Collaborate with school workers
Beyond family members, your teen will have more interaction with their school teachers than almost any other adult. That’s why it’s so important that their teachers are aware of their condition, including any triggers. The best way to approach that discussion might be different for each individual student, but in any case, you should make the effort to include your son or daughter in the conversation. Encourage them to speak with their teachers at school, or set up a meeting with the teachers they spend the most time with. Once their teachers are aware of the situation, they’ll be better able to make considerations and work with you as a teammate in your child’s recovery.
Face the fear head-on
Having a goal works as a great motivator in almost any facet of life, so it could be helpful to sit down with your teen and talk about small steps they could take towards overcoming their anxiety. The goal could be anything from visiting a neighbor to joining a sports team, as long as it creates an opportunity for social interaction. Like almost anything else in life, interacting with others is a skill which can be improved with practice, and the more you encourage that practice, the more confident your child will become.
Get professional help
Seeking a professional diagnosis might be your first or last step, depending on the severity of the problem and the progress made through other steps. For anyone suffering from a psychological condition like anxiety, it’s crucial that the chosen professional is trustworthy and likable so that the patient feels comfortable divulging any and all important information, no matter how uncomfortable it might seem. The right professional will also be able to advise on the best treatment for your child, whether that might be medication, regular counseling, or self-regulation. The bottom line is that if you feel that your child’s experience of anxiety is becoming debilitating, getting a professional opinion will give you clarity, peace of mind, and with any luck, a long-term solution.
Anxiety can be a challenging condition to overcome, and while you may be concerned about your child’s welfare, remember that any extra stress from your side will be unhelpful at best. Remind them that they are not alone in their experience and that they have plenty of pathways to recovery to choose from, with you by their side, every step of the way.
About the Author:
Bethany Seton is a recent economics graduate, working for the last two years as a community counselor. Before settling in an office again, she decided to follow her passion for writing and traveling. Currently, she travels with her laptop and writes for various blogs, hoping one day she will gather all the experience she gets in one book.