Help Your Child Kick Their Social Anxiety to the Kerb

Hi guys.

We all know that social anxiety can be a real dificulty, especially for kids who already have a low self-esteem. It stops them doing the things they’d really like to do, as well as things that could make a huge difference to their lives. Complete this activity with your child, using their feelings as a guide.

The Problem

If they’re anything like I was, when in a situation that causes anxiety, I immediately thought about the downside. The nasty ‘fear’ chemicals started flowing and I quickly become a wreck.

In times like these, it’s difficult to think of anything other than the devistation that’ll follow. But, there is a way to help soothe the immediate over-reaction.

Every child has things they’re naturally good at. They also have things they just can’t do. In between though, there’s things that they could probably do, if they had the right skills, or motivation. (Psychologist Lev Vygotsky studied students and called this area in between, the ‘zone of proximal development‘.)

It’s this middle area that this tip will help. It’s very simple to construct, very easy to apply and can be hugely beneficial.

The ‘Fix’

Firstly, spend a few minutes with your child, thinking about one, or two scary situations they’d love to overcome.

Once you’ve done that, get yourself a small piece of card. A 3 x 5 index card is ideal.

On one side of the card, ask them to name 5 benefits of smashing their fear in these situations. That’s 5 reasons, why taking a small step into their ‘ZPD’, would be so beneficial. Add them to the card.

When you’ve finished that, spin the card over and write down their 5 reasons, why staying the same is unacceptable. eg; what they could miss out on, what happiness they’ll forgo, etc.

Lastly, and most important, get them to carry the card with them.

Whenever they’re faced with the prospect of having to face these, or similar situations, they can get the card out and remind themself why they want to do it.

Why it Helps

It’s really hard to remember these things when you’re stressed about the situation. But, having this card with them all the time, means they can remind themselves easily.

Clearly, it won’t do much to help with the anxiety of the situation, but sometimes just having a strong ‘why’ is enough to get started.

Give it a try. It’s 10 minutes out of your day and could change a life 🙂


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Steve, the Founder of Teen Anxiety UK, has been writing books and articles about various aspects of Psychology since 2006.

His formal qualifications include Clinical Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Child Psychology.

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