Does this describe your teen:
- At home they are completely at ease but if someone comes over they go completely quiet
- At school they struggle in friendships
- They struggle to get to sleep at night
- They either avoid school work or they never know when they are done
- They won’t ask teachers for help if they are struggling in the subject
In my counselling practice, I have sat with many young introverted teens who struggle with social anxiety. These teens really want to have good connections but sometimes they feel so overwhelmed by even simple conversations with their peers.
So they avoid.
They stay home.
They get busy with video games.
They get busy with school work.
They do what they can to avoid the anxiety and the often awkward encounters that happen when talking with peers.
But then these teens are left with lots of loneliness and isolation.
I used to be a lonely, isolated teen and I know how hard this is.
The problem with avoiding things that make them anxious, is that it works. When we don’t do that thing that we feel anxious about, it helps to reduce the anxiety. And being anxious is such a hard feeling.
So what can you do as a parent?
Here are a few tips that may be helpful
1. Talk to them about being anxious
Anxiety can be really hard to name, especially in the teen years, so having a parent start the conversation can be helpful.
2. Talk to them about avoiding behaviours
They might not realize how they are avoiding being anxious so bringing this to their attention can be helpful.
3. Anxious teens don’t usually like to talk about being anxious
Teens often feel embarrassed about their anxiety and may be resistant to talking about it. A way to normalize having anxiety is to share times when you have felt anxious. This can help your teen see that anxiety isn’t something we have to be ashamed about.