Parenting a child is no small feat. Along with balancing between providing guidance and independence, ensuring physical health and mental wellbeing can seem like an unending job! One area that is often overlooked when it comes to parenting children is their mental state, including the possibility of social anxiety. Social anxiety in children may differ from those experienced by adults, but it’s no less important! So, if your kiddo seems overly worried before going to school or won’t attend social events despite encouragement from you, then they could be suffering from social anxiety!
So let's dive into understanding a bit more about Social Anxiety Disorder: what it means when kids are dealing with it, why they start developing it, and provides actionable tips on how parents can support their child through this process.
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder that involves an intense fear or nervousness in social situations. People with social anxiety, especially kids going to school, may become extremely self-conscious and worried about being judged, embarrassed or rejected by their peers. This can often lead to avoidance of social situations to not feel anxious, which in turn can interfere with daily life and relationships.
Some common situations that may trigger social anxiety include public speaking, being in large crowds or groups, meeting new people, using public restrooms, eating or drinking in front of others, and dating.
Social anxiety can manifest in different ways for different people and can range in severity. Some common symptoms of social anxiety include racing thoughts, sweating, trembling, blushing, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty speaking.
How does social anxiety develop?
Social anxiety in children can develop for several reasons, ranging from genetics to environmental factors. Here are some possible ways that social anxiety can develop in kids:
Like many mental health conditions, social anxiety disorder tends to run in families. Children with a family history of anxiety or depression may be more likely to develop social anxiety.
Living in a home with high levels of stress, conflict, or criticism can increase a child's risk of developing social anxiety.
Is social anxiety caused by parents?
Social anxiety is not necessarily caused by parents themselves, but certain parenting behaviors and family environments can contribute to the development of social anxiety in children.
For example, children who grow up in homes with high levels of criticism, conflict, or overprotection may be more likely to develop social anxiety. Additionally, parents who model anxious behaviors or avoidant coping strategies may inadvertently pass those behaviors on to their children.
It's important to note, however, that social anxiety is a complex condition that can result from a variety of factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, and life experiences. While parenting behaviors and family environments can contribute to the development of social anxiety in some children, many children with social anxiety come from loving and supportive families.
Experiences at school:
Children who are bullied or teased, struggle academically or have trouble making friends, may be more likely to develop social anxiety.
Parents who are overly protective or who do not allow their children enough opportunities to cope with challenging social situations may inadvertently contribute to the development of social anxiety.
Children who experience trauma or abuse, may be at higher risk for developing social anxiety.
It's important to note that social anxiety in kids can develop gradually and may take time and observation to identify.
5 Tips On Helping Kiddos Cope with Social Anxiety
Certainly, here are some tips on helping kiddos cope with social anxiety:
Validate their feelings: It’s important to acknowledge your child’s feelings and let them know that their feelings are real and understandable. This can help your child feel seen and heard.
Build self-esteem: Encourage your child to try new things and praise them for their efforts, not just their successes. Building self-esteem can help kids feel more confident in social situations.
Practice relaxation techniques: Teach your child calming techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization exercises. These techniques can help reduce anxiety symptoms.
Role-playing: Practice social situations with your child such as introducing themselves to someone new, initiating a conversation, or making eye contact. Role-playing can help build confidence and ease anxiety.
Encourage socializing: Encourage your child to get involved in social activities that interest them, such as sports, music, or art classes. Attending social events can help your child gradually face their fears in a safe environment.
However, if they still don’t feel comfortable sharing time with too many people, you can enroll them in an online social group available for kids with social anxiety or difficulty making friends. For example, at Boo’s Battalion, we have a social group that meets once a week in our Rally Points. There, kids have the opportunity to meet peers from all around the U.S. in a safe and controlled environment full of fun and activities to learn and engage.
Do you want to enroll? Click here and fill the application form. We’re excited for you to join
Seek professional help: If your child continues to struggle with social anxiety despite your efforts, consider seeking professional help from a mental health professional. Therapy can be an effective way to teach your child coping strategies and provide them with a safe space to process their feelings.
Remember, social anxiety can be challenging for both kids and parents, but with patience and support, your child can learn to manage their fears and thrive in social situations.
Kids and Social Anxiety: Final Thoughts
Social anxiety in children can be a tough nut to crack, but it's not impossible. As parents, caregivers, and educators, it's essential to keep an open line of communication with these little ones. Validate their fears and concerns, and don't dismiss them as silly. Remember when you were a kid, scared of the boogeyman under the bed? Yeah, well, social anxiety is their equivalent of the boogeyman. It's real to them. With the right tools, techniques, and patience, we can help them conquer their fears and live their best lives.
So let's give them a pep talk, hold their hand, and guide them towards social success. And, if you want to enroll them in the best social squad, so they can make friends and conquer their fears, remember that Boo’s Battalion is here for you!