Just like adults, even children can feel anxious at times and this is quite normal. But it becomes problematic when anxiety affects their emotional and mental well-being. Among all types of anxiety disorders, social anxiety disorder (SAD), also called social phobia, has a crippling effect on children.
SAD is characterized by feeling of fear or embarrassment during public appearances or gatherings. It is common to spot children who avoid speaking or withdraw themselves from extracurricular activities at schools or immediate localities. Many of these children may be suffering from social phobia and as result of prolonged anxiousness they might be experiencing depressive symptoms also.
As a matter of fact, young people with SAD are more likely to develop depression by the time they turn 15 and abuse substance by age 16 or 17, as compared to people of the same age group who are not suffering from SAD.
Parents’ role in helping children manage anxiety
Besides hampering a child’s emotional and mental well-being, SAD can affect his/her self-esteem and confidence during the most crucial growing years. In worst cases, the child may find himself/herself in the web of depression, substance abuse, and at times, lifetime impairment.
When children are chronically anxious, parents can play an important role in identifying the fears that trigger SAD and in helping them overcome anxiety as early as possible. Here are a few pointers for parents to help their wards in dealing with anxiety:
Distinguishing shyness and SAD: SAD is often confused with shyness, which is not a disorder, but more of a temperament. A shy child takes time to assimilate with peers, but someone with SAD may experience extreme discomfort being with a group of friends, eventually withdrawing himself/herself from group activities and gatherings.
Letting children avoid things or situations that make them anxious: Avoiding things or situations that trigger anxiety can make children feel better temporarily, but this will not help them in the long run. Situations like friends’ gatherings or school activities will always be there, thus, by letting their wards face them, parents can actually help them cope with SAD.
Respecting their feelings: There is no better way to overcome fears or anxiety than facing them. There are many things that make children anxious about, such as going to the doctor or walking into a public place alone. Parents must respect a child’s feelings and discuss about those, but at the same time they should convey the message that he/she must face and overcome the fears.
Staying away from asking leading questions: A child with SAD is always anxious about upcoming events at school or an approaching exam. Asking questions, like “are you anxious about the forthcoming event,” may make them nervous and worried all the more. In an attempt to gauge the child’s anxiety level, parents can resort to subtle questions, like “how are you feeling about the forthcoming event?”
Different children with SAD should be treated differently
All young people with SAD may not be anxious about same situations or things. It is here that the role of parents come into play as they can help in identifying the fears and situations that trigger anxiety in their children. Once identified, there are various treatment options to fight SAD.
Anxiety can be treated with medications, but therapies are also available to help people overcome the disorder. If your child is anxious about certain things, or is diagnosed with any type of anxiety disorders, get in touch with the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California. Our experts will guide you to the best anxiety treatment center in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-972-9459 or chat online for further information.