Teenage years come with a number of stressors. Social and cultural pressure can take a toll on a teen’s mental health. Social Anxiety among teens is on the rise due to Social Media use, and other modern social pressures. Although most teenagers go through periods of normal anxiety related to the changes that go along with adolescence, those with Social Anxiety Disorder experience fear that is out of proportion to the situations that they face. For some teenagers, social anxiety becomes chronic, affecting school performance, extracurricular activities and the ability to make friends.
Interacting with Peers
Teenagers with social anxiety often have trouble interacting with their peers both in school and in social situations. This can lead to poor performance in school. Students with Social Anxiety can often show the following behaviors:
- is uncomfortable in group settings
- has few friends
- is afraid to start or participate in conversations
- is afraid to ask others to get together
- is afraid to call others
- avoids eye contact
- speaks softly or mumbles
- appears to always be “on the fringes”
- reveals little about him/herself when talking to others
Modern technology has made it easier to connect with others throughout the world. With this new accessibility, comes a new set of challenges. Often times young people can hide behind the screen, causing avoidant behaviors in real life.
While social networking sites may help those with social anxiety to more easily initiate and establish social connections, there can be drawbacks as well. These online connections may not be as strong as those created in real life.
On the other hand, social media can give teens a twisted view of reality. On social media, many people present the best version of their lives. This can cause feelings of envy or inadequacy in teens that may already have feelings of social anxiety.
Building Self Esteem
When it comes to reducing feelings of social anxiety, building self-esteem is the best way to reduce feelings of self-doubt. Being generous with praise is a good first step. Teens need to be acknowledged for what they do well. Commend your child not only for accomplishments but for effort—including those times when it fails to bring the desired results. Teens with social anxiety may feel awkward accepting praise, so make sure the compliments are natural and not forced. It is still ok to criticize the teen when necessary, just try to be constructive, and never speak in a hurtful or demeaning manner.
Encourage your teen to cultivate their talents and interests. Everyone excels at something and helping your teen focus on what they are good at can help develop confidence. Getting involved in activities can also be a great outlet for a socially anxious teen. They can make connections with others that have similar interests. This can give an easy outlet for conversation and social connections.
If you are a parent of a teen that has been struggling with Social Anxiety, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families. Contact The Bougainvilla House today to see how we can help. 954-764-7337 Or use our convenient Contact form.