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How to Manage Social Anxiety with Teens

Let's go back to that dreadful year of 2020. The shutdown and the global crisis of the year 2020 occurred 4 years ago but continue to have a drastic and severe impact on our reactions, behaviors, worries, concerns, health, and our social interactions. The worldwide pandemic with COVID-19 caused our businesses, schools, and our lives to completely shut down. Shutting yourself out from the world, our hobbies, our favorite activities and even our friends and our families. Being disconnected from our friends and family has had a traumatic effect on being able to achieve one of our basic human needs…. connecting with others. 

In this blog, I will be focusing on how to assist a teen who has been experiencing social anxiety. According to an article from CNN, Abraham Maslow is an American Psychologist who was established in 1943 and is famous for realizing that the whole person is more impressionable than just simply focusing on an individual's symptomatology. Abraham Maslow’s work has shown that there is a hierarchy that has several levels of human needs that need to be fulfilled.

Starting from the bottom to the top of the pyramid and hierarchy:

  • The first level focuses on psychological needs which include food, air, shelter, sleep, clothing, and reproduction. 

  • The second level focuses on safety. Safety includes examples such as resources, health, employment, and feeling secure. 

  • The third level of the hierarchy is love and belonging. Love and belonging consist of friendships, intimacy, family, and being connected. 

  • The fourth level of the hierarchy is Esteem, Esteem consists of status, respect, esteem, freedom, strength and recognition. 

  • The fifth and last level of the hierarchy is self-actualization. Self-actualization consists of desiring to achieve goals and be the best version of the person that you can be. 

Understanding the levels of the hierarchy and seeing the categories further points out how much we were impacted in several levels of the pyramid and were unable to achieve our basic needs as human beings. Love and Belonging specifically is one of the most impacted levels of the hierarchy due to the pandemic shut down. 

The connection was stripped away from us. Human touch and being able to be in the physical presence of other human beings were not possible during that point of time. Our children were not able to attend school and were not able to socialize with their friends and continue to learn, grow, and explore socially. So what effects did the shutdown have on our third level of the hierarchy?

One of the effects that occurred within the third level of the hierarchy was social anxiety. Our children not being able to attend school were not able to socialize with their friends and continue to learn, grow, and explore socially. According to research from Michigan Medicine, It was reported that since the pandemic parents have noticed an increase in teen mental health. Anxiety was reported to have increased 36% while anxiety in boys increased 19%. Depression was reported to increase 31% in girls and 18% in boys. Sleep difficulties have increased 24% in girls and 21% in boys. Withdrawing from social interactions increased by 14% in girls and 13% in boys. Lastly, aggressive behavior increased by 9% in girls and 8% in boys. Due to the statistics, the pandemic had a severe impact on our teens. So how do we assist our teens with social anxiety 4 years post-pandemic?

Tips for Reducing Social Anxiety In Teens 

Social anxiety for anyone can seem debilitating and impossible to conquer but there are ways to assist with managing social anxiety and getting our teens back out into the world and socializing like pre-pandemic times. Follow the tips below for assisting with social anxiety.

  1. Validation and Reassurance: Validate your teen's experiences and try to provide examples of a time that you may have felt or had a similar experience, or speak about how you can put yourself in their shoes. 

  2. Focus on Perception: Social anxiety often comes from your teen being concerned about other people's perceptions of them. Talk to your teen about how they are viewing others' perceptions at home, school, and during extracurricular activities. To have a better understanding of how they believe other people perceive them.

  3. Judgment: focus on how your child feels about being judged and the first time that they have experienced judgment to assist with managing judgment in the future. 

  4. Communication: Assist your teen with healthy communication skills for talking to other teens and making connections through conversation starters. 

  5. Problem-Solving Skills: Teach your teen problem-solving skills for managing difficult social interactions and conflict

  6. Self Soothe: Focus on self-soothing skills for managing social interactions and conflict

  7. Therapy: Seek therapy if tips and tricks have not been useful or if you need extra assistance with assisting your teen with conquering their social anxiety.

All in all, social anxiety can be crippling but can also be manageable. Follow the tips above for managing social anxiety for your teens. 

For more tips, please check out our other tips here You can always find us at 954-903-1676 for counseling services. 

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