Social Anxiety in Children: Do’s And Don’ts in Communication
Effective communication with your children is complicated, but it gets more difficult when your child suffers from social anxiety. Although you may find child anxiety medication over the counter to help, consider these other communication strategies.
Do’s—Listening To Your Child
Not only does listening to your children strengthen your bonds with them, but it teaches them to listen to you as well. Listening also helps them learn to communicate more effectively and encourages the development of their social skills. These skills encourage their self-esteem, emotional awareness and academic achievement.
Avoid trying to fix an issue, and don’t judge the situation or your children and eliminate distractions when they come to you to talk. Stay open-minded. Exchange your thoughts, but avoid taking over the conversation.
Don’t—Disregard Your Child’s Feelings
Whether or not you think they are valid, your children’s feelings are real and important to them. Avoid dismissing them, especially to get them to calm down or feel better. They may need a few minutes or longer to truly deal with how they are feeling. Instead of saying “it’s ok,” give them the opportunity to sort through and deal with their feelings.
When you are patient and understanding of your children’s feelings, they feel respected. Also, if you let them deal with their feelings in their time, their behavior turns around quickly. They become less irritable and able to cope better with fear and anxiety.
Do’s—Talk About Anxiety
Your children need to know what they are going through. Therefore, avoid just providing natural anxiety relief for kids and ignoring the issue. Instead, talk about it. Give them valid information about anxiety, and talk about things that made you anxious when you were growing up. Discuss how you dealt with your anxieties.
Start the conversation by discussing an instance of anxiety you witnessed in your children and recognizing that this anxiety has a foundation and is genuine. Then, go from there. Also, discuss coping mechanisms.
Don’t—Ask Leading Questions
Leading questions can make your children feel as if you are putting them on the spot. Avoid statements like, “does (an event) make you anxious?” Instead, ask what makes them anxious or how they feel about certain situations or events. Avoid transferring your own anxiety onto your children through leading questions.
Do’s—Prepare Them For Upcoming Situations
If you know that certain circumstances increase your children’s anxiety, prepare them well in advance. Discuss the situation openly for several days or weeks before the event. Talk about how things will go, what to expect and what your children can do in uncomfortable situations. Assure them that you are willing to leave if they feel overwhelmed or too anxious.
Don’ts—Provide Excessive Praise
Avoid praising your children at every turn. They need to understand when they failed, and you need to work with them to develop skills to deal with the situation or issue better in the future. You cannot do this if you praise them for everything. You can praise their efforts, but discuss where things didn’t work out so well.
As you learn to communicate with your children more effectively, learn what to look for, e.g., 6 year-old symptoms of social anxiety. If you know the signs and symptoms, you will know when your children need to talk about what they feel.