Talk It Out
If your child gets anxious before, during or after social situations — and it persists after the situation has ended — then they could be experiencing a form of social anxiety. It can also cause distress, such as stomach-aches or headaches, that prevent them from attending school, interacting with friends or family and joining in activities like sports and playtime.
Find A Friend
Being nervous or shy is normal, but when kids get extremely distressed in social situations like playing with other children or going out with family and friends, it may be an indication of social anxiety. Social anxiety is not easily overcome, but it can be managed and prevented from interfering in a child’s daily life.
Make It Fun
Children are perceptive, and even if they lack the vocabulary or knowledge to label anxiety, they likely know when their parents or siblings struggle. Sharing your own mental health struggles in a sensitive and appropriate manner may help to de-stigmatize mental illness for your kids, and teach them that it’s okay to ask for support when needed.
Do Not Ridicule
Especially when your child is struggling with social anxiety, avoid ridiculing their feelings or the situations that make them anxious. It will only add to their discomfort.
For example, if your child is upset that other kids at school laughed at them for falling down in gym class, avoid getting mad or making them feel guilty for their feelings (e.g. “Those kids have no right to laugh at you!”).