Children with anxiety often suffer from social phobias; they may become extremely distressed over normal situations or activities that most children deal with in a normal manner. Reading in class, facing a test, speaking in front of others, and even playing with other kids can cause severe anxiety. Many children with anxiety don’t even want to go to school because they don’t want to face these situations.

Many people find it hard to believe, but children suffer from stress and social anxiety just as often as adults do. An anxious child may display not only signs of social fear, but aggressive behavior, a tendency to be shy, and a total disinterest in activities that most children would enjoy. If your child suffers from social anxiety, there are strategies that will help both you and your child to cope.

Children with Social Anxiety Need to Open Up

It’s always important that you talk with your child about their anxiety. You need to know what is going on in your child’s life and talk openly and honestly about his/her problems. Children are often unable to solve problems for themselves, so it is essential that you are there to support and help your child. Try to get your child to talk about what is bothering him/her, even to write the problems down on paper.

Five Strategies for Helping a Child Cope With Social Anxiety

Where doctors are concerned, many prescribe medications to children with anxiety. While this may seem to help, the drugs simply mask symptoms and often do nothing to eliminate the underlying cause or issues. There are some strategies you can teach your child that will help them cope with their anxiety.

  1. Talk with your child about finding solutions whenever a problem arises. By improving his or her problem-solving skills, your child will have fewer worries to become anxious about.
  2. Teach your child to have an “I can” attitude. By replacing negative thoughts with positive, the anxious, fearful, and worried feelings can often be kept at bay, or at least minimized. Self-talk is important in children with anxiety; explain to your child that it is important when they are faced with a situation that makes them feel frightened or worried that they tell themselves, “I can do this” or “I will do my best.” Tell your child that thinking positive thoughts will help lessen their fear and worry.
  3. Social anxiety often causes physical symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, nausea, or even a feeling of being lightheaded. Explain to your child the importance of deep breathing, and how it can help to calm them down when they are feeling anxious. Teach them how to do it as well, explaining that they should inhale deeply through their nose and exhale from the mouth. Also explain that this is a relaxing exercise that will make them feel better.
  4. Help your child understand that all fear is not the same. Some fear is provoked by situations that are truly serious, while other times fear is simply a negative thought in your child’s mind. Teach your child how to rate fear on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the worst possible fear. Once your child can rate their fear as a “3,” they may be able to visualize their fear better, which may help them to understand their fear is not as serious as they first imagined.
  5. Reassure your child that no matter what happens, you are proud of them and love them. Children often become anxious because they fear they will fail a test, get a bad grade on a report card, or fail in some other way that may even be minor to you. Remind your child that no matter what the outcome, you are proud of them and all will be fine. This reassurance helps many children to relax and reduces some of the anxiety they may feel.

Reducing Anxiety in Children Will Also Lessen Social Anxiety

To some degree, most children get nervous when starting a new school or meeting new friends; however, when children are filled with fear, worry, and uncertainty, it can severely impact their lives now and as teens and adults. This is why it is essential that anxiety issues are dealt with at a young age.

Every type of anxiety, whether social or other, is based on negative thoughts and feelings. Children with anxiety feel frightened, worried, nervous, and uncertain about things that most children give very little thought to, such as who to eat lunch with or who to play with at recess. These thoughts become so big in their minds that the thought of playing at recess makes them fearful and consumes them.

By changing fear, worry, and other negative thoughts to those that are more positive, social anxiety can be eliminated so that your child grows up to be a happy, healthy and well-adjusted teenager and adult. The key to resolving those fears and other negative thoughts that prevent your child from enjoying a happy childhood is to overcome those worries and fears that leave them paralyzed with anxiety.

The strategies above will help you and your child cope with the situations that may cause your child to become anxious, helping him/her learn how to lessen their fears and worries dramatically.

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