If your teen has social anxiety, then you can sum up the experience in two words. It stinks!
You watch your teen struggle when interacting with their peers. They seem so overwhelmed with anxiety when talking to other kids.
You want them to have friends. But you also know that learning how to engage with others and build connections is a skill they will need to be successful later on in life.
How can you help, yet in a way that is encouraging and not pushy? Here are four tips to help your teen deal with social anxiety.
1. Focus on One Thing at a Time
Even considering where to start is overwhelming! However, this is a great opportunity to teach your teen about setting goals. Sit down together and come up with a list of possibilities that they can work on. Then hone in on one idea to start.
Doing this helps your teen to focus their attention and direct their energies towards that one goal. Otherwise, it becomes a scattershot process where they will find little success. Once they have identified a goal, help them build out an action plan. This can include:
- What they want to accomplish.
- Steps towards accomplishing that goal.
- Benchmarks to identify success.
- What the end result should look like.
2. Practice Relaxation Techniques Together
Another thing that you can do with your teen to help deal with social anxiety is practice relaxation techniques together. Now, you don’t have to be a mediation master to pass on helpful tricks to relax. For example:
- Practicing breathing in and out calmly.
- Listing to relaxing music.
- Using art to express themselves.
- Writing in a journal.
- Basic yoga moves.
- Exercising together.
Again, don’t flood your teen with a lot of ideas at once. They will get quickly overwhelmed. Instead, practice one skill at a time until they get the hang of it.
3. Encouraging Them to Stretch Their Comfort Zone
We all could use a little encouragement in stretching our limits beyond our comfort zones. This doesn’t mean going so far that your teen goes into a panic. Rather, it’s about taking small, incremental steps.
These allow your teen to be more comfortable with a situation and boost their confidence. For example, perhaps going to a school dance is too overwhelming. But, what about:
- First driving up to the school, but not going into the building.
- Next time, walk into the dance but stay less than thirty minutes.
- At the next event, staying an hour.
This step-by-step process empowers your teen to gain more confidence with a particular social situation and helps avoid overwhelm.
4. Recognize Their Successes
Finally, when your teen is successful, recognize and celebrate those accomplishments together. Even small steps of progress deserve recognition. A hug, smile, and saying, “I’m so proud of you,” will go a long way.
You can also build in celebrations when your teen is planning out how to meet a social situation challenge. For instance, if they can stay at the dance for an hour, they can earn a reward.
Therapy and Social Anxiety
An important part of your teen’s journey for overcoming social anxiety will be therapy. They may be hesitant to engage in therapy, or not trust the therapist. Your child could feel embarrassed that they have to go to a therapist.
Try to normalize therapy. Going to a therapist doesn’t make them “weird” or different at all. Therapy is just one more piece in the puzzle to empower your teen to navigate complex social situations. It is also a place where they can be themselves and not fear being judged by anybody.
You play such an important role in your teen’s life as a parent. Social anxiety isn’t easy. Yet, you can support, encourage, and celebrate with your teen as they work to overcome this issue. Find out today how we can help with anxiety treatment, 256-686-9195.