Social anxiety disorder involves an intense fear or phobia of social and performance situations. Although most teenagers go through periods of normal anxiety related to the changes that go along with adolescence, those with SAD experience fear that is out of proportion to the situations that they face. For some teenagers, social anxiety becomes chronic, and can affect their school performance, extracurricular activities, and the ability to make friends.
Teenagers with social anxiety disorder may perform poorly at school and have trouble attending classes. Clients with social anxiety are also less likely to make friends and participate in extracurricular activities. Those with severe SAD may drop out of school or refuse to leave home. If left untreated, social anxiety disorder may lead to an increased risk of other mental health issues later in life, such as depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse.
Helping Your Child with Social Anxiety
- Create Space for Conversations: Sometimes, the first step towards working with your child is giving them the opportunities to talk through what is causing their anxiety. Maybe they are struggling in the morning before going to school. As a parent, it may look like they are acting out, but in talking to them, they can communicate the extreme anxiety they’re feeling about their day. Talking about it can help you start to work towards solutions to help them manage their anxiety. They may be afraid or embarrassed to talk about their anxiety, but showing them that they can talk without receiving any judgment can help them ask for the help they need.
- Set Realistic Goals: Just talking about their anxiety won’t solve all their problems. It is important to set small, achievable goals that help them feel that they are making progress. A class presentation may be too big a first goal, but learning to practice calming breathing when they’re feeling overwhelmed can be a realistic goal that can help them manage their anxiety.
- Practice: Once you have identified some of the situations that are triggering anxiety for your child, you can have then begin to practice how they can handle those situations. For example, if they are feeling overwhelmed in their classroom, teach them how they can talk to their teacher and ask for help or a break when they need it. Create a support system with your child’s teacher and school. Make sure that teachers know how your child will be communicating their needs in the classroom. The more your child practices this communication, the more comfortable they will feel.
- Seek Out Help: While there are many ways you can support your child at home, working with a mental health professional is the best way to address their social anxiety and create a treatment plan.
BlueFire Wilderness Can Help
The power of blueFire’s wilderness program lies in immersing clients in the wilderness setting to interrupt the pattern of negative behaviors, inspire a true desire for a lifestyle change, and identify a complete plan for long-term success. All skills and activities taught at blueFire wilderness program promote transferable skills, whether the confidence and self-awareness gained as one tries new activities or the acute awareness gained from setting and achieving goals. For more information please call (844) 413-1999.