How To Help Your Teenager With Social Anxiety – Episode #95 – Helping Your Teen With Social Anxiety Question of the Day: “I’m worried about my daughter. She is 14 years old, a freshman in high school and seems to be withdrawing more and more socially. Her grades are good but she chose to study online instead of going back to school and that worries me. He spends most of the day in his room. I try to get her to walk the dog with me, go shopping or eat out, but she prefers to stay at home. On the occasions when I do let her come with me (dentist appointments or important family things) she looks visibly uncomfortable. He pulls on his hood, lowers his head and walks quickly, trying to avoid any contact with other people. She only rejects my calls. I also hear him rejecting calls with his friends. She’ll say she doesn’t like going out and doing things, but when she comes home after exercising or hanging out, her face brightens and she looks happier. Can my daughter deal with social anxiety or depression? Is this just a negative side effect of the pandemic that will disappear over time? How can I help her? I suggested I talk to someone (a therapist), but she turned me down. If she doesn’t want to talk to me or her friend about it, how do I get her to talk to a stranger?” Parent Educator Seema’s Answer: How do I help my teenager’s mental health? Mental health is going to be the issue of the decade.
Research continues to show a very strong correlation between time spent on social media and increasing anxiety and depression in teenage girls.
How To Help Your Teenager With Social Anxiety
This pandemic and its social distancing has given already anxious teenagers a good excuse to stay home and not interact with their peers.
Social Anxiety In Kids And Teens
Sleep, nutrition, love, exercise, social acceptance, physical safety, the ability to pursue things that interest you, the ability to be your authentic self, a sense of purpose and community.
There are ways in which modern life negatively affects the mental health of our children and adolescents, even before the pandemic.
His teacher embarrassed him in front of the class, his friend said something rude at lunch, he got a bad grade, whatever.
If he walked home from school with a friend, he would feel better when he got home.
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A combination of exercise, positive social interaction, and being outside in nature will help him process his negative emotions so that they aren’t such a big deal anymore.
When we pick up our kids and drive home, these negative emotions have nowhere to go. They stay in the bottles. If our child jumps right into homework or video games, it’s more distracting than liberating. When we ask “How was school?” Did you have a nice day? Were your friends nice to you?”
We think we’re showing interest and care, but it would probably be more effective to tell a joke, share something embarrassing you did that day, or talk about fun plans for the weekend. Sometimes our questions can seem like pressure to be perfect, to have everything go well, and to be happy all the time.
Can her teen deal with anxiety and depression? Yes. Could it be a negative side effect of the pandemic? Yes.
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Or she could have made sense of it and would have turned up at 14 anyway. If she had separation anxiety and stranger anxiety as a child, it is possible that it would have always appeared during adolescence.
“How can I help her?” How do I get her to talk to a stranger if she won’t even talk to me or her friend?” The first thing parents can do to help their child struggling with mental health is to educate and destigmatize.
If you find out your daughter has diabetes, you will learn as much information as possible and make sure she understands the ins and outs of how her endocrine system works. You’ll make sure she knows how to keep herself healthy and thriving. If she complained and said, “I don’t want to be stabbed.” or “I don’t want to see a doctor.” you would make it non-negotiable. You will do everything in your power to gently but firmly make sure she has the tools she needs to thrive.
You will do all of this, even to the point of being bored, knowing that it is a constant struggle, a part of her experience here on earth that is beyond your control. You will not hide this truth from anyone, nor will you be ashamed. You will be honest about struggles and challenges and educate family members about how they can best support your daughter.
The Strange, Surprisingly Effective Cure For Social Anxiety
I believe in looking at anxiety and depression in a similar way. Mental health struggles are a common consequence of living in America’s fear-based culture with modern conveniences, sedentary lifestyles, and disconnection from nature, community, spirit, and purpose. Emotions are contagious. When people around you are angry and scared, parents are stressed, peers are insecure, and social media implies that perfection is the goal, it doesn’t take much to tip the scales.
Some children are like canaries in coal mines, more sensitive than others. They let us know that the air we breathe is poisonous. Much of the culture in America is toxic.
The first thing you can do to help your child deal with any mental health problem is to educate and destigmatize it. Talk to her pediatrician. Learn together what causes anxiety and what helps it. Help her get a diagnosis that works for her.
Keep a gratitude journal, a thought and dream journal, or self-help workbooks such as Teen Anxiety Workbook, Teen Self-Compassion Workbook.
Managing The Effects Of Social Media On Teen Girls
If it were me, I would tell my daughter that God gave her anxiety for a reason and that it is her job to use it to help others. In order to help others, she will have to help herself first.
I would present her this list as a menu and say, you can choose one or all. We are here to support your dreams, no matter how big or small. If your dream is to attend high school and not feel like everyone is judging you, we will make it happen. If your dream is to live in a tree house in Costa Rica to save the day, we’ve got your back.
Encourage your daughter to use her imagination to create WHAT SHE WANTS instead of focusing on all the ways she doesn’t meet society’s expectations.
The only thing on this list that I would make mandatory is to “do one SMALL thing every day that scares you.”
Anxiety And Depression In Adolescence: A Social Problem
When you avoid activities that trigger your fears, they become bigger and scarier in your mind. I would insist that every day she does something that makes her feel a little uncomfortable, scary, and vulnerable. Let her order a pizza over the phone, invite a friend to go shopping, or offer to walk the neighbor’s dog. Celebrate small victories with her until it becomes a habit.
A Life Coach’s Answer: What prevents us from accepting, supporting and educating our anxious teenagers? Our worries!
When we see our beloved teenagers acting grumpy and negative, withdrawing from society and dreading meeting new people or new challenges, it causes OUR anxiety! It’s like watching your child grow! It feels urgent; like a very scary emergency and we need them to do something NOW to make us feel better FAST!
We get angry and annoyed and yell at them to get over their ridiculous problems that make no sense!
Social Anxiety And Your Teen: 5 Tips To Help
We feel guilty and ashamed, like it’s our fault that our child is struggling like this and we should have done more to prevent it.
We become defensive and think about all the time, money and energy we invest to give this child the best of everything. All we want is for her to be happy, and she can’t even give that to us!
“PLEASE say yes to your friend’s invitation.” PLEASE join a club or sport. I NEED you to be happy so I can relax and stop obsessing over your happiness.”
“She never goes to university or leaves home.” She won’t get her driver’s license and I’ll be stuck with her mental health for the rest of my life!”
Child Social Anxiety Disorder (social Phobia) — Philly Psychology, Llc
I created a program specifically for moms living with a struggling teenager. I call it Leading Your Teen and it’s designed to help moms learn to lead by example instead of trying to “fix” their teen. In this coaching program, I help moms understand when to step in, when to let go, and learn to love more but worry less. We work to release our own fears, worries, guilt, anxiety and frustration so we can be the supportive, encouraging moms we want to be.
Quote of the day: “You don’t have to fight in silence. You can be quiet. You can live well with a mental health condition as long as you open up about it to someone. It may take some time
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