One of the hardest things to do when you child is suffering emotionally is to stay calm and find the energy, pace and fortitude to deal with their situation. It can be exhausting as a parent to continually be monitoring your child’s emotional regulation as well as trying your best to keep a handle on your own !
Social anxiety is a very real disorder which involves a phobia to being in social situations as they feel very self-conscious being around crowds or groups of people.
Symptoms may include extreme shyness, stomach ache, fast heart rate, dizziness, and crying, having a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others.
The effects can be very debilitating and if not addressed can severely compromise a person’s life style and life choices.
Across time people can isolate their activities to only include those arenas where their social anxiety is not triggered and this can leave them not participating in activities compounding their isolation and lack of connections.
As with most emotional disorders not addressed or challenged but instead simply ” lived around” we end up not really flying at full mast. For children and teenagers this is an important issue to short circuit as quickly as possible as it can colour the trajectory of the quality of their adult life enormously .
My friends teenager would not leave the house and to go to school some days, saying that she believed everyone was ” staring at her and judging her “. She also found it very hard to attend family functions , even with people she knew well. She believed she was boring and had nothing to say worth listening too !
My friend knew that was not the case as she had seen her daughter interacting many times in the past with others and said people had commented on how chatty and warm her daughter had been .
Telling them that they are fine, and that its all in their head doesn’t work does it ? You need something more industrial strength than that !
So what can you do now, that she/he refuses to leave their room, house, or your company ?
There are a few evidence-based techniques that can help you get your child back on track .
1.Deep progressive relaxation – Progressive Muscle relaxation script ( PMRS ) is a script that you follow to incrementally relax each part of the body.
This is great for teens as it is simple and straightforward.
This exercise you could do together for 10 minutes before she leave s for school and on the weekend for 10 minutes before she has a social event. This will not work straight away, she will build up this ” muscle ” across time .
2. Mindfulness meditation : “Smiling Mind” has a child friendly app that she can keep on her phone or your phone. I do it with my son sometimes. Remember she will not get results straight away the benefits are accumulative across time. So she will have to be patient.
https://www.smilingmind.com.au/ I use this one with my teen and he loves it. What is about this app, it uses a regular Australian accented voice-over that is not irritating ; no mystical oogga-booga or watery insipid phrases and intonation !
3. Deep breathing : This involves long slow conscious breaths, that focus breathing and there after have a calming effect on the physiology. There is an easy to follow worksheet for your teen on this at :
4. Challenging anxious thoughts : Most of our anxiety when it is crippling and stops us from functioning well comes from a tape of messages we tell ourselves. Catastrophic thinking is a part of this. Rarely is there evidence for the negative thoughts we have. Many are irrational fears of ” what if” .
This worksheet will get your daughter to practice catching and challenging her irrational negative thoughts with the question so …. ” where is the evidence for this ? ” My friend learnt to ask her daughter , ” Where is the evidence you are boring ?
They developed a kind of family court where she was the prosecutor and her daughter was the defence. My daughters friend had to be her own defence lawyer and defend her well-being self by arguing there was no evidence and therefore she could demolish the prosecution and be free to leave the court ( the house ! ) on that occasion.
As this game progressed the teen was also starting to face her fears and gain traction in her social skills, and unknowingly creating for herself a solid fact based history of experiential success !
There is a worksheet for this too ! https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-worksheet/putting-thoughts-on-trial/cbt/none
5. If she is not up for the game then simply get her to challenge herself to achieve small feats. : Walking down the street with the dog for 10 minutes saying hi to a passerby and coming home. Next time she could pop into the shops try on some clothes and come back to you. What ever her scariest environments are still with them in small doses.
This all takes time and regular goals. Have some rewards perhaps for small achievements she/he makes over time, to keep the enthusiasm and momentum going. Teens love rewards !! lol
You are doing a great job ! If you need help call me for support and guidance . 0408120830 . First consultation is free.