Many kids are shy around strangers, but “warm up” after becoming familiar with a person or situation. But sometimes kids experience fear and anxiety about participating in everyday social situations like playing with neighborhood kids and attending school. In Shannon Anderson’s book, Too Shy to Say Hi, Shelli’s fears and anxieties prevent her from joining in on activities she would certainly enjoy. In this excerpt from the Reader’s Note in Too Shy to Say Hi, Dr. Elizabeth McCallum explores the difference between shyness and social anxiety and offers tips to help your child feel more confident and relaxed in social situations. Shyness or Social Anxiety? Shyness is a part of many kids’ temperament, or the personality traits that determine the unique way in which they interact with the world. It may take a shy child a little while to get comfortable with a new person or situation. However, sometimes shyness is so extreme that it interferes with a person’s social development, causing significant distress. Social anxiety is a term used to describe when a person avoids everyday social activities because they’re worried about being judged or fear behaving in ways that might bring about embarrassment. Usually people with social anxiety don't have any trouble interacting with family members and close friends, but the idea of meeting new people, speaking in public, or unfamiliar situations can put their anxiety symptoms into high gear. Fight-or-Flight? We all feel anxious or scared sometimes. In fact, feeling anxious can be helpful in certain situations. Our bodies and brains are hardwired to feel anxious and respond to these feelings with our fight-or-flight response. When our brains sense danger, they release adrenaline and other chemicals that cause all kinds of bodily reactions: quickened heartbeat, rapid breathing, sweating, and even goosebumps. Evolutionarily speaking, the fight-or-flight response helped to keep us safe from predators. Today the fight-or-flight response continues to keep us safe from different dangers like walking into oncoming traffic or eating spoiled foods. But what about when the danger isn’t real? When someone has social anxiety, or any type of anxiety problem, they feel anxious in situations where there is no real danger at all. Their fight-or-flight response gets activated too frequently, too powerfully, and in situations where it isn’t actually necessary. How Does Social Anxiety Affect Daily Life? Social anxiety is a common mental health diagnosis in childhood, with the typical age of onset between 8 and 15 years old. People with social anxiety have fears regarding their social performance. They tend to be highly self-conscious and have an extreme fear of being judged by others. School, for example, is a very social time for kids. Kids may spend hours at school each weekday, interacting with peers and teachers. Social anxiety can keep kids from participating in everyday school and extracurricular activities. Unstructured time, like lunch or recess, may be the worst for these kids because there is the most opportunity for social rejection. Some kids may also avoid raising their hands in classRead More
Shelli was content with her pet friends with feathers, fins, and fur. Her bird would keep her company at home, her fish would hideaway in his cave, and her dog was the social butterfly of the neighborhood. Shelli is shy. Often too shy to even say 'hi!' But now, Shelli is determined to try to make friends with kids at school. Hear author Shannon Anderson read Too Shy to Say Hi aloud and hear how Shelli takes brave steps toward breaking out of her shell. Shannon also suggests a simple craft to help manage worries.Read More
Help Your Little Worrier Stay Calm
A Feel Better Book for Little Worriers helps children understand what worries are and what to do when they are feeling worried. From verses that demonstrate body awareness to coping strategies for kids, A Feel Better Book is not only enjoyable for children to read, but also helpful for both children and caregivers. To learn more about how you can help your child cope with worries, check out our article Stress Management Exercises for Anxious Children.
Parenting a child with a chronic medical illness poses unique and enduring challenges. Two mental health professionals marshaled their clinical and personal experience and insights to create a book for parents with a chronically ill child. Frank Sileo, PhD, and Carol Potter, MFT, answer questions about writing When Your Child Has a Chronic Medical Illness: A Guide for the Parenting Journey. This is part one of their interview. Magination Press: What inspired you to write When Your Child Has a Chronic Medical Illness: A Guide for the Parenting Journey? Frank Sileo: I was diagnosed with a chronic gastrointestinal disease called Crohn's disease back in 1989. It’s a chronic, autoimmune disease that’s a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Following receiving the diagnosis, I wrote my first children's book, Toilet Paper Flowers: A Story for Children about Crohn's Disease. After I wrote this book, I was invited to speak about how chronic illness impacts children and families. I also started receiving referrals to my clinical practice of kids and families struggling with chronic medical issues. I have always wanted to write a parenting book that would include the advice, research, and psychological coping skills I lecture about and share with my patients in my practice. I wanted to create a tool that parents can have on hand to refer to on their parenting journey. Having this book published is a huge dream come true moment for me! MP: Do you have experience with parenting a child with chronic illness? Carol Potter: My son Christopher did not have a chronic medical issue but did have some learning issues beginning in elementary school, so I am familiar with some aspects of this situation. There were searches for the appropriate professionals to help, testing with a psychologist, working with the schools and teachers trying to get them to understand what he needed, and additions to his schedule that he just didn’t want to do. Fortunately, I never had to worry about his health, or about the kinds of emergencies these parents have to deal with, but being a mom I can begin to imagine how scary it must be when your child’s health threatens their ability to make friends, attend school, or even their very life. All parents worry about their children; the worries of parents whose children have chronic medical illness, though, include concerns about survival, which I know must add immeasurably to the stress they already feel. MP: How did you end up collaborating on this project? FS: I know Jason Priestley, who played Brandon Walsh on the show Beverly Hills, 90210. Jason has reviewed some of my children's books. When I wrote my children's book A World of Pausabilities: An Exercise in Mindfulness for Magination Press in 2017, he told me that his 90210-television mom, Cindy Walsh, played by Carol, is a marriage and family therapist. I looked her up on the web and saw she practices mindfulness with her patients and has a personal practice. I reached out to herRead More