A lot of teens struggle with social anxiety. If that is the case, here are 3 quick tips on how to handle the situation:
1.) Go Back to Baby Steps
Trying new things can be so overwhelming, especially with all of the added pressures that high school brings! If the task on the table is one your teenager wants to participate in but feels too nervous, try starting by just taking small steps towards the goal.
Maybe that looks like sitting with a friend for 20 minutes at lunch rather than jumping in to a large group for a big activity at first. Then, celebrate the small accomplishments with your teenager that lead up to the goal! Doing this makes bigger, more intimidating activities appear much more doable with each accomplishment, no matter how small it may seem!
2.) Help Them Find Something They Like
Does your teen have trouble connecting with others or getting to know them? Do they say they don’t feel like they know anyone that “gets them?” and so they avoid talking to peers?
Sometimes we have to go back to basics to get our teenagers to first spark an interest in something where there will be like minded people! Try going with your teenager to volunteer or participate in a place or activity that your teenager seems passionate about. This gives them an opportunity to see that there are like minded people in the world, even if they can’t seem to find them at school.
3.) Use Truthful, Kind Encouragement to Turn Around Negative Self-Talk
Do you hear or notice how your teenager is talking about their fears? Do you hear a lot of negative self talk? Time to change the narrative so your teenager can start hearing words of encouragement and kindness, not just from us, but from themselves. Tune in! What is your teenager telling themselves about how other people perceive them? Let’s teach them to challenge that voice in their head and replace it with a kind, encouraging voice. Wouldn’t that sound so much better to hear? I think so too.
Emily Simon, LCSW, is a child & adolescent therapist. She believes laughter is the surprising secret to surviving tough times. She is able to bring light, laughter and fun to just about any situation. In her own teen years, Emily had a tumultuous time, which uniquely equips her to understand adolescent girls–as well as the power of counseling. Emily has 10+ years clinical experience with underserved children, adolescents, women of domestic violence, seniors in living facilities, agencies, family service centers and health centers, which means she is comfortable and experienced in just about any situation.