Social anxiety is a common condition seen in children and teens everywhere, whereby, they have a persistent and excessive fear offacing social situations like parties, school events, athletic activities, etc. This fear stems from the feeling that something embarrassing may happen, which can make others think any less of them or mock them for life. These children constantly remain under ‘on stage’ fright, which leads to a great deal of avoidance, distress, and self-consciousness. We, at Gurukul The School, have seen people frequently confusing a quiet or a shy child with a socially anxious child. However, it is important to note that there are some prominent differences between both. For instance, being anxious about the first day at school is common, and not an exception. While for children suffering from social anxiety, the problem runs deeper, and hence require serious attention and special care.
A shy child can overcome his/her fears if given time, but that is not the case when the child suffers from the problem of social anxiety. We, at Gurukul The School, have seen the anxiety in such children manifesting itself through a number of physical symptoms such as stomachaches or complaints about feeling ill. They also have this general tendency for crying, whining, freezing, and clinging to parents in social situations. In case you feel that your child is not just an introvert but is rather socially anxious, don’t panic! We can assure you that social anxiety among children is more common than you think. Following are some of the ways you can help your child effectively fight the same.
Help them identify their emotions
We consider that the first step of helping the kids deal with the issue of social anxiety is to let them identify and name their emotions. The parents should help them connect the dots between emotional responses, physical symptoms, and triggers. Educating the children about how anxiety impacts thinking and behavior is a powerful lesson in learning to work through negative emotions.
Prepare them beforehand for the situations
When you know that such a situation is coming up which can probably trigger anxiety in your child, it is always advisable to prepare them beforehand. Ask them to visualize the upcoming scenario in their mind and think of the appreciation they will get for their efforts. They must also be taught physical ways of relaxation like deep breathing to calm down the rapid heart rate.
Teach them methods of cognitive reframing
Kids with social anxiety disorder are often overwhelmed by negative beliefs that reinforce their anxious thoughts. Such children should be taught to recognize their negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. For instance, if the child says that, ‘My teacher does not like me because I’m bad at Math,’ replace it with a positive thought that his teacher will never judge him on his weaknesses but rather simply wants to help him better at it.
Assist them by instilling problem-solving skills
We, at Gurukul The School, have seen that children with social anxiety disorders try their best to avoid and run away from any situation that can aggravate their anxiety. This path of least resistance might seem convenient for them in the beginning, but it ends up making the anxiety worst with time. It is important to teach children to work through feelings of fear and anxiety by trying to come through the problems instead of showing their back to them. For instance, if a child fears public speaking, let him/her practice several times at home in front of a mirror, have someone videotape the kid, and share it with the child to let him/her see how well he/she was doing. It will help ease the anxious feelings in the child.
Focus on progress and not perfection
Banishing the anxious thoughts from the young minds is not something that happens in a day or even a month. It should be a slow and gradual but steady process where the focus needs to be on their progress and not on perfection. The more we impose on them for perfection, the more conscious and anxious they get. The better way is to praise them on each small milestone that they have achieved and motivate them to earn more of such victories on their way ahead.
We, at Gurukul The School, ranked as the topmost school in Ghaziabad, believes that it is ideally the joint responsibility of us, the parents and the school, to ensure that our young budding minds overcome any feelings of anxiety and fear and come out as stronger, confident individuals. To that end, we provide our pupils with a consistently nurturing and loving environment at school, which we believe is imperative for helping them to do away with their irrational fears. Our experience in the education domain has taught us that each child is different and thus needs to be tackled differently. However, love and care have to be the common elements that can help raise the positivity, throw the negativity out, and give them the strength to rise up gracefully.