Anxiety is considered as a plague of the modern world by many psychologists. It prevents us from doing the simplest actions, like going to the store or talking to people. And the worst thing about anxiety is that no one is immune. Each of us experienced it at some point in our lives in mild or severe form. Some of us still suffer from it and you can have more than one.
Children are especially susceptible to anxiety since they are still trying to fit themselves in their surroundings. When the puberty hits, the anxiety can increase and then it’s even more apparent and pronounced. No matter the child’s age, they tend to hide their anxiety because they fear to disappoint their parents, peers, and teachers.
However, as a parent, you can actually do a lot to help your child overcome the anxiety, and especially the social one. Social anxiety is the most common and more complicated than believed. It includes much more than fear of interacting with others. Namely, fear of reading in front of the class, public speaking, embarrassment, being judged by others and unliked.
This type of anxiety is known to cause problems in academic life, relationships and has a negative impact on self-esteem. Children between 8 and 15 years of age are the most affected by the social anxiety. As a parent, you can help your child through this hard period. But before trying to, you need to know how to approach this problem.
Educate yourself about anxiety
Reading about social anxiety can help you recognize the signs and find the perfect approach to talk to your child. There are many studies online that explain the basic symptoms and causes in young children and adolescents. World Health Organization has drafted an action plan for 2013 – 2020 period on how to deal with mental health issues in children on a global level.
For example, due to the economic crisis and modern social interactions via technology, many children develop insecurity to talk to their peers. Many parents see this as shyness, but actually, it can be more serious and being able to recognize the signs is imperative in order to help your child.
Also, read about the ways to approach children of different age and how to make them feel comfortable to talk about their anxiety. The wrong and impatient approach can do more damage, and if you see that you can’t handle this alone, consult professionals. Creating a safe and comfortable environment is very important and you have to know how to create one.
It’s nothing to be afraid of
Parents’ first reaction to when something is different about their child is fear. From then on you can either handle the situation reasonably or turn that fear into a negative effect on your child’s health. Social anxiety is nothing to fear or run from, especially when you have to help your child confront it.
Sit down with them, make them a cup of warm beverage, create a comfortable atmosphere and talk to them. Ask them how they feel, and what caused that feeling. Social anxiety can also be caused by bullying, something children tend to hide from their parents. So, be gentle and approach the topic slowly.
Make sure that your child knows they can tell you everything and that you won’t be mad or judgmental. As adults, we can sometimes forget what it was like for us to talk to grownups when we were children. If you notice more serious behavioral changes caused by social anxiety, consider child therapy.
Handle stressful situations with care
Social anxiety can also appear due to stressful situations like a death in the family, abuse, divorce and other serious issues. Your child’s health is the most important since they’re still in development. Mentioned situations, as well others like substance abuse, have to be approached with the help of professionals.
For example, although divorce may seem like something that child will easily get used to, that’s not the case. Some divorces can be messy and future ex-partners can’t control their anger and dislike for each other. Children observe this and as a way to fix the situation, believe that it’s their fault. In order to avoid court proceedings, use mediation services for family disputes, such as divorce.
This way your child won’t absorb the negative effects and will witness a civilized separation of their parents. No matter the feelings you have for your ex-partner, remember that they’re your child’s parent, too. Unless it was a case of an abusive relationship, then try not to burden your child with your emotional turmoil and ask them to pick sides.
In the end
Parents’ job is to protect their child, but also to explain to them why the world works the way it does. This is not an easy task since sometimes we don’t understand it that well either. However, with expert help and consulting the professionals, parents can approach the issue more prepared.
After all, our children need to learn how to deal with problems in a reasonable and civilized manner. Also, they have to know how to manage stress so it doesn’t influence their lives too gravely and seriously.