Some teens find it difficult to chat with confidence among friends. While it is perfectly okay to be shy, there are things you can do to help them socially.
In some ways, social awkwardness is similar to social anxiety in the fact that being in social situations may make your teenager feel anxious or stressed.
Here are some tips for helping your teenager with their social anxiety and awkwardness:
Try and recognise the signs
Early intervention is key. Noticing that your teenager is struggling in social situations when they are young is better than realising it when they are 17 or 18 years old, just as they are just about to do exams and become an adult.
If you notice a problem, the best thing you can do is talk to your teenager (early on) and try and figure out why they are feeling like this.
Work on social skills
The thing is, lots of teenagers spend time alone in their rooms and the emergence of technology has heightened this problem. More teenagers are struggling in social situations as they may not get out enough.
Make sure that you include your teenager in social occasions and events as well as forcing them out of their room for short amounts of time.
Extracurricular activities should be encouraged, as well as school groups and clubs.
Don’t berate your teenager
This won’t help them with their confidence and social awkwardness. It isn’t their fault and they honestly find themselves in a heap when in social situations.
Instead, take it easy with them. For example, teach them to order a coffee but stop short of forcing them to return something they may not have gotten correctly. Take little steps and encourage them every step of the way to build up their self-confidence.
Talk to your teen
Show them how to have conversations and teach them a few techniques for keeping conversations going. Teach them about ‘day to day’ conversation and how to engage in it with people they may not feel comfortable with.
If your child has debating or other things in school, encourage them to join as it will help them grow in confidence. Talk to them about how they can make it easier on themselves and offer help or guidance.
If they are old enough, perhaps get them to find a job and even if it stresses them out in the interview stage, it will go a long way in helping them improve their social skills.
Encourage your teenager to spend more time with family and friends
They can learn how to be comfortable in other people’s company. It should be someone they feel happy to chat to, so they are growing their social skills.
Send your teenager to get change in the shop or ask them to ask a shop keeper a question – anything to encourage them to talk and socialise but know the line between encouragement and badgering.
Pay attention to your teenager
Some teenagers may need to speak to someone about their problems or look at some forms of therapy to overcome their social anxiety and awkwardness.
It takes time for a teenager who is struggling socially to step out of their comfort zone, but it can be done - slowly and steadily. Remember, they need to go at their own pace, so they don’t get overwhelmed. Be patient.