Dealing with social anxiety in children and teens

Mass Appeal

(Mass Appeal) – Social anxiety is a common problem. As parents, it can be difficult to know when to rush in to help and when to let your child figure it out themselves. Here with advice is Dr. Sharon Saline.

Dealing with Social Anxiety in your child or teen:

  1. DEFINE YOUR ROLE: It’s hard to know when to step in if your child has social challenges. Peer rejection, isolation and bullying are not only painful for your son or daughter but are also very distressing. When to jump in and when to coach them from the sidelines is tough to figure out. Issues of health, safety and often demand your involvement in some way. You want to simultaneously teach your kids how to advocate for themselves and let them know you’ve got their back. Talk with them about this issue to learn where they stand and share your own opinions. Make a basic agreement.
  2. FOCUS ON TWO FRIENDS NOT TWELVE: Kids need a minimum of two friends. Sometimes kids who are wired differently miss facial, emotional or verbal cues that would help them interact with peers more successfully. Practice these skills at home and give them feedback to confirm or contradict what they are noticing.
  3. IMPROVE SELF-ESTEEM AND REDUCE PEER COMPARISONS: When kids compare themselves to peers and repeatedly come up short, there’s a real reason for you to be concerned. This is especially true for kids with ADHD, ASD or Learning Disabilities. They often feel different in a bad way and are put down for this. Help them by finding ‘islands of competence’-things they are good at or interested in.
  4. BRAINSTORM APPROPRIATE RESPONSES TO EXCLUSION OR TEASING: Often kids don’t know what to say or do when people say mean things to them or act. Help them come up with one or two phrases to say in these situations. Figure out who can be an ally and how and when to let an adult know that something’s happening that isn’t okay. Talk about online bullying and how to deal with it.

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