First Day of School Social Anxiety?
The beginning of the school year can make your child anxious. There is a new teacher, a new classroom, new classmates. This can all be overwhelming to a young child. Help your child learn to live life without the pressures of fear and anxiety.
The onset of social anxiety during one’s formative years can have a devastating effect on their social development. If left unchecked it can lead to serious psychological problems in later life, maladjustment, agoraphobia, depression and even suicide.
Some signs of social anxiety might include:
- Excessive shyness and acute self-consciousness.
- Your child speaks very softly and says very little or they shy away from eye contact.
- They often cry or throw tantrums.
- They are unwilling to participate in classroom activities.
- They feign illness in-order to avoid having to go to school.
- They are constantly alone in the playground, not joining in, or they spend a lot of time alone in their room, there is a strong possibility that they have social anxiety.
It is important not to disregard a child’s anxiety by simply telling them they’ll grow out of it.
There are many positive things parents, teachers and family members can do to encourage a socially anxious child:
- The most important thing is to gently encourage them to confront their feared situations a little bit at a time, never pushing them too hard.
- Parents can share with their child examples of times when they have felt anxious in social situations. This way the child will feel supported and know that they are not alone in feeling the way they do.
- Parents can make a conscious effort to nurture their child’s self-esteem, paying them compliments and being openly affectionate.
- It is important for teachers to be mindful of not doing anything to embarrass or humiliate a child and to insist on a humiliation-free environment in the classroom.
- Encourage a friendship between a shy child and more outgoing child.
- Reward any small step a socially anxious child makes to be more outgoing or participatory, later gradually requiring the child to do more to earn the reward.
Set your child up for success. Don’t force your child or demand they join in. If they are by nature quiet and shy, gradually ease them into social situations. Success develops self-esteem. Self-esteem develops confidence. Confidence is the brick and mortar to social and academic success.