Parents: How You Can Help Your Kids Overcome Social Anxiety
Anxiety is a natural experience. But it can keep you from taking appropriate risks or avoid people and important situations, if you let it. The best way to overcome an anxiety disorder is to face fear-provoking situations as early and as often as possible.
A parent's part in this process can be challenging. Staying out of the way as your kid faces anxiety runs counter to the parental instinct to protect them from harm. And while it might be painful, you must let them face these experiences head on. By putting yourself between your kid and their anxiety only reinforces avoidance and escape. Anxious people are seeking an "out" from the discomfort they're experiencing, and when you step in, you provide that negative reinforcement. Providing safety or becoming involved when they're feeling anxious keeps them from learning or trying new things.
So, what can you do? Allow your child to face difficult situations and they will likely master them. Encourage them to practice these things to help them overcome anxiety:
- Asking for help from a customer service representative
- Ordering food on the phone - and calling back to change the order.
- Making an appointment with a doctor.
- Canceling an appointment with a doctor.
- If attending college, reaching out to an advisor or professor via email or scheduling an appointment to meet them in person.
If your child has difficulty with any of these things and is heading off to college or to their first "real" job, consider assisting them in seeking help from a psychologist or other mental health professional.