Helping a child with social anxiety could be challenging for many parents. Yesterday I got a letter from Anne S., the title stated following “My son has social anxiety - what should I do?”. This subject is very familiar to me because as a kid I had social anxiety myself. That is why I felt that I could really help out and share ways of dealing with social anxiety in children with our readers.
What Is Social Anxiety?
There is a thin line between a shy child and a child with social anxiety. Shyness is a characteristic of personality, an introvert who is comfortable with a way he/she is communicating with other people and dealing with various daily situations and tasks.
Social anxiety, on the other hand, is an extreme form of shyness that stops a child from normal participation in daily activities, making long-lasting friendships and communicating with others.
What Are The Symptoms Of Social Anxiety?
Children with social anxiety are nervous to be around a large number of people, that is why always feel uneasy at preschool. They cannot properly take part in daily tasks at preschool because of the fear to be heard, seen, and to be the center of attention. Therefore, social anxiety could negatively affect their academic life as well.
Social anxiety is so severe that it can even cause physical side effects like headache, vomiting, and diarrhea. Therefore, social anxiety is not only harming your child’s social life but affecting his/her health as well. Unfortunately, if social anxiety is left untreated it can continue into the adolescence and adulthood, thus, stopping your child from being a successful and confident individual.
Luckily there are ways to deals with social anxiety. Start by building your shy child’s confidence!
How To Make Your Shy Child Confident?
The problem behind severe shyness is that your child thinks that he/she is not as good as others. He/she is not as active, as outgoing, as beautiful, as smart as somebody else.
You need to focus on what your child is and further develop his/her natural talents and hobbies. Does your child like to draw? Sign him/her for drawing class. Does your child like to dance? Sign him/her for a dancing class. Does your child have too much energy? Sign him for sport/karate classes.
Praise your child's talents, making sure that he/she feels like they are special and talented. Talk to the teacher and explain your child social anxiety issues. Ask them to give your child enough attention and congratulate on their achievements.
How To Help A Shy Child?
Don’t talk negatively about your child’s shyness. Rather than saying – “He/she is very shy” say “He/she is only outgoing with people they know well”. This way your child would feel that it is a word “outgoing” not “shy” that is associated with him/her.
As your child is gaining confidence through discovering his/her talents the realization of their self-worth is forming in their mind. That is great, you are on the right track!
Now, you need to help your shy child to socialize and make friends. Having friends and being “accepted” in children’s “social circles” is very important for children with social anxiety. Often, making friends is challenging for children with social anxiety because they avoid communication with others.
How To Help Your Child To Make Friends?
Ask your child who he/she likes at preschool and with whom they want to be friends. Arrive earlier at preschool and invite those kids and their parents on the pizza play date. No one ever says no to pizza! Create fun games, challenges, and karaoke activities for kids. Make it entertaining and fun!! Help your child stand out and be the center of attention. Therefore, he/she will understand that it is not scary but fun to be at the center of attention.
The easiest way of helping your child to make friends is a play date!
Arrange play dates with your friends’ kids and your neighbors’ kids. Creating a large social circle for your child will help him/her to be much more outgoing and social. This will slowly move social anxiety away from your child’s life towards self-confidence and healthy relationships with their peers.
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