Social anxiety affects at least 1 out of 3 adolescents between 13 and 18 years old. Since the pandemic, social anxiety has increased, especially among teens who may have become socially withdrawn after months of limited in-person interactions with their peers. Now that the new school year is starting, social anxiety can intensify and become coupled with loneliness or depression. While social anxiety may feel challenging, at times even causing debilitation, there are ways to lessen and overcome it.
Recognizing Signs of Social Anxiety
Teens who experience social anxiety don’t always tell their parents. Some of the behaviors below may be signs of social anxiety, but other things can also contribute to these behaviors.
- Avoiding classmates outside of class
- Being afraid to ask others to get together
- Has few friends
- Doesn’t call peers
- Discomfort in group settings
- Speaks softly or mumbles
- Becomes more withdrawn if encouraged to talk
- Fears being embarrassed or humiliated
- May not ask for help in school
Ways Parents Can Help Teens Who Suffer from Social Anxiety
- Try to offer one-on-one opportunities for your teen to talk. When talking to your teen, it’s essential to be a good listener versus immediately trying to fix the situation. Teens want to feel heard, and they’ll be more apt to consider the advice you give if you allow them to ask for it.
- Let your teen know that what they are experiencing can be overcome. Reminding your teen of past successes can help build their confidence.
- Help your teen create realistic goals, such as joining a club or finding someone to talk to during lunchtime at school. After your teen feels comfortable with the goals that they’ve set, help them create action plans to achieve their goals.
- Discuss possible conversation starters, such as simply saying hello and asking about someone’s weekend, giving a compliment, or making a comment about a shared experience.
- Give your teen praise when a feared situation is faced, even if it’s something that seems small to you.
- Help your teens find attributes within themselves that they can draw upon when feeling uncomfortable, such as their ability to persist when things are difficult, or that they are good conversationalists with interesting experiences to share.
- Encourage activities that help your teen relax such as music, yoga, and journaling.
Finally, it is important to let your teen know that they’re not alone. Teens often feel like they’re the only ones feeling anxious. They may perceive that everyone else is comfortable, but often the reality is different, especially since social anxiety is not uncommon. If their anxiety persists or becomes severe that it is impacting their functioning at home, school, or with friends, seek help for your teen. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment that gives specific tools to manage social anxiety.
For more information on ways to effectively support your teen contact firstname.lastname@example.org.