If you are a parent of a teenager who is in a rough phase of experiencing social anxiety disorder, it would be very hard for you to help him overcome this disorder. Along with the medication and treating him with cognitive behavioral therapy, there are other ways that as a parent you can help your teenager overcome his social anxiety fears. If you do not step up and take charge, chances are high that your teenager will never come out of his shell. You need to be an inspiration for your teenager and help him overcome his shyness, open up in public and speak his mind. If you are able to gain the trust of your teenager that no matter what consequences, you will be there to support him and you have won half the battle.
Social anxiety disorder is mostly seen in people who are introverts and shy. But this is something that can be dealt with. There a numerous tried and tested ways that can be implemented to help overcome social anxiety fears in your teenager. Here are 9 strategies listed out for you to help your teenager cope with social anxiety disorder.
Expose your teenager to social situations
It is a good idea to expose your teenager to social situations whenever possible. Gradually exposing your teenager to new experiences will help him build confidence and new skills. Your teenager will be soon able to realize his abilities. This kind of exposure definitely needs a push from your side but you consult your therapist to know your limitations. Do not think twice to appreciate your teenager upon his achievements. Take opportunities to let him speak his mind. To help him build confidence, when you go to a theater or a restaurant, let your teenager buy tickets and order food. These simple techniques that you implement will show drastic effect on your teenagers behavior and this will help your teenager fight his social anxiety disorder.
Listen to your teenager and give appropriate advice
If you know that you are dealing with a teenager who has social anxiety disorder, create a comfortable environment in the house. There is no harm letting your teenager know that it is perfectly normal to get nervous. Give him positive inclination and remind him of the situations he has dealt with in the past. If your teenager looks up to you, patiently listen to all his anxieties and then offer advice. Let your teenager know that you trust him and his abilities to cope with situations. It always pays to be patient with your teenager. Help him analyze his anxieties and discuss with him the solution that is best for his social anxieties. Be cautious and look out for situations where your teenager’s anxiety is impairing his regular activities like not going to school, or posed danger of self harm or suicide. Seek help from a professional immediately if you notice any abnormal behavior in your teenager.
Help your teenager fight negative thoughts
If your teenager is overwhelmed with negative thoughts like he being a failure, or may become a butt of joke in public, or thinks that he is boring, you need to figure out an effective way to help him overcome and reduce symptoms of his anxiety. Challenge his negative thoughts on your own or seek a therapist’s help. If you foresee any upcoming social event, remove negative thoughts from your teenager. Fill him with positivity by addressing his negative fears. This way you would help him face social situations. Boost his self confidence and let him realize that he too can accomplish tasks like his friends. Give him examples of his achieved success to motivate him further.
After you have tuned your teenager’s mind, slowly start challenging him with his fears. Give logical explanation of his fears and even before you realize, your teenager’s negative thoughts will be replaced with positive and realistic views.
Teach your teenager to control breath
There would be many changes in your teenager’s body when he is anxious. The first change that you may be able to notice is that he begins to breathe quickly. Because of his uncontrolled breath, the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body is off tracked and this may result in anxiety, dizziness, suffocation, muscle tension and increased heart rate. To avoid these kind of circumstance, help your teenager work on his breathing techniques. When he can control hi breath in the testing times, your teenager can surely control his anxieties. Give him ample opportunities to practice his breathing techniques and very soon your teenager will be comfortable to be focused as center of attention.
Give chance to your teenager to face his fears
One way of helping your teenager cope with social anxiety disorder is to help him face his fears. You cannot let him live with his fears life long. Make situations where he can face them rather than avoiding. If you let him avoid social situations, it may get more frightening for him in future. Help your teenager overcome his fears one step at a time. Think and analyze his mental condition and do not start working on his biggest challenges first. For a start, work with his small fears and help him gradually climb his ladder of fears. It is a good idea to sit down with him and chalk out all his fears and anxieties. Let him decide with what he should start first. Be open to his thoughts and encourage him to overcome his fears. Teach him to be patient and calm in situations and very soon he will overcome his fears and with that he would have dealt with a major portion of his social anxiety disorder.
Work along with your teenager to build better relations
One good way of overcoming social anxiety disorder is to build better relationships. Help your teenager join some supportive social environments. Enroll your teenager in an assertiveness training class or a social skills training class. These classes would help him frame firmness in his mind and helps him staying focused. If he likes any hobby, help him volunteer for the same. It could be like walking the pets or engaging with light minded people so that his focus will be deviated. Help in working on his communication skills. This will prove very helpful for him as he will gradually master emotionally, intelligent communication. This way he can connect to people with his conversations which in turn help him to fight his social anxiety disorder.
Change your teenager’s lifestyle
Though changing your teenager’s lifestyle alone may not overcome his social anxiety disorder, but it surely helps him work towards it. The following tips when followed will definitely show improvements in your teenager’s treatment of fighting his disorder.
1. Limit the intake of tea, coffee, soda drinks, chocolate drinks and energy drinks. These beverages have stimulants in them that may worsen your teenager’s anxiety symptoms.
2. If your teenager consumes alcohol, help him avoid drinking. Consumption of alcohol risks the increase of anxiety attacks.
3. Let your teenager have good amount of sleep every day. Research shows that the restlessness will be under control most of the times keeping one’s anxieties at bay if you’ve had a proper sleep. Ensure that your teenager has undisturbed sleep before his next social event. This will keep him fresh and focused all through the event.
Rehearse with your teenager before he attends a social event
When you are aware of a certain social situation that your teenager might have to attend, prepare him mentally. Practice along with him by working on role play’s to help him decrease his level of anxiety. Emphasize more on how he should react in particular situations in the social event. Build his confidence and teach him to strike conversations with new people that he may meet at the event. Accompany your teenager to the event if possible and keep observing and encourage him on his accomplishments. This sure would help him overcome his social anxiety disorder.
Teach your teenager to fake it
Use this technique as a last resort. If your teenager is having a tough time dealing with his social anxieties, to begin with teach him to pretend to be confident. Let him not show his anxieties by pushing them all under the surface. If your teenager can fake a kind of confidence, it decreases the level of anxiety. This in turn would let him realize that the situation that he is in is actually not as bad as it seems to be. He may start addressing his fears more bravely. Not everyone is born confident. There are ways of handling social anxieties. And faking is one such technique that actually works giving immense sense of calmness and comfort for your teenager. Gradually this will build confidence in him and very soon you can see your teenager ready to face the world.