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How To Help A Child With Social Anxiety

Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder

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Just because you occasionally get nervous in social situations doesnt mean you have social anxiety disorder or social phobia. Many people feel shy or self-conscious on occasion, yet it doesnt get in the way of their everyday functioning. Social anxiety disorder, on the other hand, does interfere with your normal routine and causes tremendous distress.

For example, its perfectly normal to get the jitters before giving a speech. But if you have social anxiety, you might worry for weeks ahead of time, call in sick to get out of it, or start shaking so bad during the speech that you can hardly speak.

Emotional signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder:

  • Excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in everyday social situations
  • Intense worry for days, weeks, or even months before an upcoming social situation
  • Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others, especially people you dont know
  • Fear that youll act in ways that will embarrass or humiliate yourself
  • Fear that others will notice that youre nervous

Physical signs and symptoms:

  • Avoiding social situations to a degree that limits your activities or disrupts your life
  • Staying quiet or hiding in the background in order to escape notice and embarrassment
  • A need to always bring a buddy along with you wherever you go
  • Drinking before social situations in order to soothe your nerves

Social Anxiety In New Places

Still another common type of anxiety in children comes from their being in new places. Though it may be impossible to avoid taking your child to new places, you can help condition them to accept new places. In most cases, this type of anxiety stems from unstable home life.

This may mean frequently moving for jobs or other reasons, homes where people come and go, and homes where consistency is an issue. A great way to remedy this type of anxiety is to get your child into a routine and let them know that even if they are not comfortable at the new store they have to go to, their home will always be a safe place. Again, providing a safe and consistent place is the best way to help remedy this fear.

What Is Social Anxiety Disorder Or Social Phobia

Many people get nervous or self-conscious on occasion, like when giving a speech or interviewing for a new job. But social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, is more than just shyness or occasional nerves. Social anxiety disorder involves intense fear of certain social situationsespecially situations that are unfamiliar or in which you feel youll be watched or evaluated by others. These situations may be so frightening that you get anxious just thinking about them or go to great lengths to avoid them, disrupting your life in the process.

Underlying social anxiety disorder is the fear of being scrutinized, judged, or embarrassed in public. You may be afraid that people will think badly of you or that you wont measure up in comparison to others. And even though you probably realize that your fears of being judged are at least somewhat irrational and overblown, you still cant help feeling anxious. But no matter how painfully shy you may be and no matter how bad the butterflies, you can learn to be comfortable in social situations and reclaim your life.

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Social Anxiety Around Animals

Another common anxiety comes when children are around animals. This is much easier to control as animals do not regularly roam the streets. You may come across a squirrel, but most animals will avoid humans. In cases where you visit a friend that may have a pet, for example, you can do several things.

You can first try to acclimate your child to the animal by allowing them to see that it will hurt them and that you are there for protection. Another option is to ask your friend to keep the animal hidden. And still another option is to allow your child to tell you when they feel comfortable and when they feel threatened.

Social Anxiety Treatment At Home

Signs Your Kids Are Dealing With Anxiety

For social anxiety symptoms that appear mildor that seem to have a direct cause, like social isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic Dr. Franklin recommends communication and preparation. For example, if your child is nervous about summer camp after a year of virtual schooling, you can help by giving detailed descriptions. Knowing what to expect can make a huge difference, says Dr. Franklin.

You can also try addressing your child’s fears directly. Ask them exactly what’s making them nervous, then brainstorm solutions accordingly. For example, if they’re worried about talking to other campers at lunch, come up with some go-to conversation topics beforehand. Also teach your child ways to self-soothe in case anxiety hits .

Although you want to protect your child, don’t let them avoid their triggers altogether. Ordering their meal at a restaurant might not seem like a big deal in the short term, but it actually reinforces their fears. To overcome this worry, your child can try taking baby steps: They can start by saying “thank you” when the waitress drops off their meal. Then, after a few weeks, they can order their own drink. Eventually they might feel comfortable ordering their whole dinner.

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Common Symptoms Of Anxiety In Children

Thumping heart, rapid breathing, sweating, tense muscles, nausea, and dread are familiar symptoms of anxiety that accompany a fight, flight, or freeze reaction triggered by real or imagined threats, like a snarling dog or new social experience. Anxious children may be clingy, startle easily, cry or have tantrums, sleep poorly, and have headaches or stomachaches.

But anxiety is not all bad. It can motivate us, or help us avoid danger, says Dr. Mona Potter, medical director of McLean Anxiety Mastery Program and McLean Child and Adolescent Outpatient Services. The problem is when anxiety gets out of hand and makes decisions for us that are no longer helpful maybe even paralyzing. By that point, normal anxiety may have become an anxiety disorder.

How To Help Your Child Manage Their Anxiety

Outside of moments when your child is feeling particularly anxious or panicky, there are things you can do over time to help them manage their anxiety and feel better.

A lot of these strategies are about helping your child to understand themselves and find out what works for them. The more confident they feel about helping themselves when things are hard, the more they will believe in their ability to cope helping to reduce feelings of panic.

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Socially Interacting With Co

Step 1: Say hello to your co-workers.

Step 2: Ask a co-worker a work-related question.

Step 3: Ask a co-worker what they did over the weekend.

Step 4: Sit in the break room with co-workers during your coffee break.

Step 5: Eat lunch in the break room with your co-workers.

Step 6: Eat lunch in the break room and make small talk with one or more of your coworkers, such as talking about the weather, sports, or current events.

Step 7: Ask a co-worker to go for a coffee or drink after work.

Step 8: Go out for lunch with a group of co-workers.

Step 9: Share personal information about yourself with one or more co-workers.

Step 10: Attend a staff party with your co-workers.

When To Get Help For Social Anxiety

Tools For Managing Children’s Social Anxiety

It’s a good idea to see a GP if you think you have social anxiety, especially if it’s having a big impact on your life.

It’s a common problem and there are treatments that can help.

Asking for help can be difficult, but a GP will be aware that many people struggle with social anxiety and will try to put you at ease.

They’ll ask you about your feelings, behaviours and symptoms to find out about your anxiety in social situations.

If they think you could have social anxiety, you’ll be referred to a mental health specialist to have a full assessment and talk about treatments.

You can also refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service without a referral from a GP.

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What Causes Anxiety Disorders In Children

Some children are simply born more anxious and less able to cope with stress than others.

Children can also pick up anxious behaviour from being around anxious people.

Some children develop anxiety after stressful events, such as:

  • frequently moving house or school
  • parents fighting or arguing
  • the death of a close relative or friend
  • becoming seriously ill or getting injured in an accident
  • school-related issues like exams or bullying
  • being abused or neglected

How To Help An Anxious Child

If a child is experiencing anxiety, there are things that parents and carers can do to help.

First and foremost, it’s important to talk to your child about their anxiety or worries. Reassure them and show them you understand how they feel.

If your child is old enough, it may help to explain what anxiety is and the physical effects it has on our bodies. It may be helpful to describe anxiety as being like a wave that builds up and then ebbs away again.

As well as talking to your child about their worries and anxiety, it’s important to help them find solutions.

For example, if your child is worried about going to a sleepover, it is natural to want to tell them not to go. However, this could mean your child feels that their anxiety will stop them from doing things.

It’s better to recognise their anxiety and suggest solutions to help them, so they can go to the sleepover with a plan in place.

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Types Of Anxiety Disorders In Children

: Excessive worrying that something bad will happen if the child is not with their parents, caregiver, or anyone to whom they are attached. The child may be reluctant or refuse to stay at a relative or friends house, sleep alone or go to school. Many children experience separation anxiety between 18 months and three years old when it is normal to feel some anxiety when a parent leaves the room or goes out of sight. Usually, children can be distracted from these feelings. However, separation anxiety may surface or resurface when the child is older and especially between ages 7 and 9.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Chronic anxiety and excessive worry about everything and everyday life. A child with GAD worries about the meaning of a canceled play date or a delayed response to a text. Children with GAD fret about bad things happening to people they love or that no one will come to the birthday party they didnt want in the first place. The worry is overblown in relation to the events that sparked the worry. GAD is exhausting as children worry chronically and constantly and cant control these thoughts. In addition, children with GAD often dont trust their instincts and seek constant approval or reassurance from others.

A panic attack usually lasts about 15-30 minutes whereas the resulting fear of another attack persists and that fear of panic returning is what triggers avoidance behavior to avoid another attack.

What Is School Anxiety Exactly

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There are quite a few types of anxiety that children may experience, many of which may translate into school anxiety. These include:

  • a fear of being separated from home or ones closest attachment figures, both of which are often required when attending school
  • Social anxiety: anxiety that accompanies social interactions and settings, to include those that may take place at school
  • Generalized anxiety:generalized anxiety disorder can impact and encompass many facets of life, including school
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder :OCD is characterized by a need for extreme order, rituals, and perfectionism, all of which can be more difficult to maintain in school and may contribute to social anxiety for a student who is afraid of being made fun of as a result of their OCD habits
  • Specific phobias: a specific phobia can relate to just about anything, from snakes and heights, to certain foods and school

School anxiety can look different depending on the students age group.

For preschoolers, it may have more to do with separation anxiety and a fear of being away from mom, dad, or other caregivers. This may result in tantrums at school drop-off and trouble relaxing throughout the day.

A student this age may not yet have developed age-appropriate social skills and may have anxiety about school as a result, or they may spend excessive time worrying about academic expectations to the extent of not wanting to go.

At all these ages, school anxiety may result in school avoidance and refusal.

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Be On The Lookout For The Physical Signs Of Anxiety

The worried feelings that come with anxiety can seem hidden to everyone but the child trapped in the turbulence. That’s why it’s especially important for grown-ups to pay close attention to a child’s behavior and to look for the telltale signs of anxiety in children.

Anna, of Brampton, England, remembers when her 7-year-old son started having trouble at school.

“He was just coming home and saying his stomach hurt. He was very sick,” Anna says. When she followed up with him to try to get to the root of his stomachache, she says, “he did tell me he was worried about school, and he told me specifically it was a teacher that he was worried about.”

A stomachache, headache or vomiting can all signal anxious feelings, especially as a child gets closer to the source of the anxiety.

“You’ll see that they’ll have a rapid heartbeat. They’ll get clammy, you know, because their heart is racing,” says Rosemarie Truglio, the head of curriculum and content at Sesame Workshop. “They’ll become tearful. That’s another sign. … Anxiety is about what’s going to be happening in the future. So there’s a lot of spinning in their head, which they’re not able to articulate.”

Rachel, of Belgrade, Mont., says her 6-year-old son really doesn’t want to swim or go to their local splash park.

We heard this from so many parents: My child is terrified to do something that I know won’t hurt them, that they might actually enjoy. What do I do?

Tips For Educators On Teaching Students With Sad

Here are three ways that teachers can spark learning, encourage engagement, and cultivate self-confidence in students with social anxiety disorders:

  • Assign groups or pairs instead of allowing the students to choose for themselves. This alleviates some of the intense pressure on students with social anxiety, while helping to assure that no one in your class feels excluded.
  • Reward students as a way to incentivize participation. Participating in discussions or other group activities can be extremely challenging for students with severe social anxiety. By providing rewards and incentives, you can encourage the student to begin and continue contributing to group activities. To learn more about this topic, explore our article discussing how to create reward systems for online students.
  • Firmly establish clear rules against bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Its imperative to cultivate an environment, virtual or otherwise, where all of your students feel safe to learn and collaborate. One way to accomplish this is by setting and enforcing strict zero-tolerance rules against bullying and other forms of harassment. Its important to ensure that students who violate the rules face appropriate consequences as a deterrent to others.
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