Social Anxiety: 4 Articles

Understanding social anxiety in children

Tips to Help Your Socially Anxious Child Stay Engaged Amid COVID-19

Around the world, children’s social lives have drastically changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent physical distancing.  For many children, these changes represent major losses of beloved activities, including school, extra-curricular activities, and playdates. For socially anxious children, however, the many cancellations may come as a relief since they no longer need to attend potentially anxiety-provoking activities. As a parent or caretaker, it can be concerning to watch your socially anxious child withdraw during this already challenging time. However, there are many small steps you can take to encourage your child to be social and build skills in this area—even during the pandemic. Why Facing Fears is Important  It is important for socially anxious children to practice engaging in social situations, even though it is hard. This is because when children consistently avoid something that they fear, their brain misses out on several key learning opportunities. These include the chance to learn that the situation is rarely as bad as anxiety predicts it will be, that they can handle feelings of anxiety even though they are uncomfortable, and that their level of anxiety will likely decrease if they stay in the social situation. In a socially anxious child’s typical day to day life, they have countless opportunities to practice engaging in social situations to teach their brain these important lessons. By creating opportunities for your socially anxious child to continue to engage with peers in quarantine, you can help their brains continue to learn these lessons.  Create a Bravery Plan Sit down with your child and explain that you want to help them boss back anxiety and continue to practice facing fears, as they were doing so bravely before the quarantine started. It can be helpful to reflect together on how they feel after pushing themselves to engage in a social situation. Proud? Accomplished? Reflect back often to these observations to help build and maintain your child’s motivation.  Collaboratively brainstorm with your child a list of potential social interactions. Do your best to get creative and try to think of ways to replicate the activities they participate in during their non-quarantine life. These might include (virtual) playdates, book clubs, singalongs, games, concerts, or show and tell with objects from each child’s home. If classmates or peers live nearby, your child might bike, walk, or scoot by their homes and say a physically-distanced hello.  After creating a list, let your child choose where they are comfortable starting. It is usually helpful to start small (e.g., saying “hi” over text to someone they are comfortable with) and eventually build to more challenging interactions. It can be helpful to repeat an activity several times to allow your child to get more comfortable with it before moving on to a slightly harder activity. After your child engages in the activity, have a brief conversation to help them notice if the activity was as scary as anxiety said it would be and if they were able to handle it. This brief reflection helps

Read More
Tips to Help Your Socially Anxious Child Stay Engaged Amid COVID-19 2020-05-22T19:15:33-04:00

More than Shyness: Identifying Social Anxiety Disorder

Everyone feels anxious sometimes. It’s very normal. In fact, anxiety has a useful purpose in our lives; it keeps us safe. When we’re anxious, our bodies set off a reaction called the flight-or-flight response, and this causes changes in our bodies… faster heartbeat, trembling hands, shallow breathing, focused thinking. These changes help us act quickly when we need to, to protect ourselves -like staying away from a wild animal!

Read More
More than Shyness: Identifying Social Anxiety Disorder 2018-09-17T13:27:03-04:00