Breaking Our Kids Social Anxiety On The Return to School

With children over the age of 12 now being offered the vaccine, society opening up even further, and the potential for us to find some sort of normality over the coming school year, we can’t ignore the fact that our children may be facing certain anxieties on the return to school. One such worry is social anxiety.

Someone with social anxiety may worry about being embarrassed by friends or teachers, meaning they may behave differently at school and around their peers.

They may fear being judged, mocked, laughed at, or even being in the limelight. Because of this, they may exclude themselves from certain activities with intense anxiety. Many of us will feel upset about being picked on, however, someone with social anxiety will see this as being an explicit threat. School can be difficult for anyone with social anxiety and can have an effect on their education.

The return to school can amplify a child’s experience of social anxiety especially after a break from the normal routine of school life. But, we can always be on hand to help with the transition.

Teach Them To Understand Anxiety

Helping our kids to understand what anxiety is, why it happens, and how to combat it gives them the tools needed for a stronger mental wellbeing. It also shows them that you recognise and understand what is happening to them. Your support is essential if they are to manage their anxiety.

Help Them Identify The Physical Reactions

The physical reactions of anxiety, such as erratic breathing, a racing heart, sweaty and trembling hands, are signs of anxiety. We can help our children face the underlying issue as well as the physical. It is very difficult to think about a situation rationally when we are in panic mode. Teach your child breathing techniques and mindfulness with apps, books, or classes to help them take back control of their body when panic arises. It’s a difficult skill to learn and takes practice.

Encourage Your Child To Talk

When talking with our children about their worries, it’s helpful to avoid leading questions and to opt for open-ended questions which encourage them to talk about their anxieties in a way that is easier for them. If opening up and talking is difficult for your child, encourage them to keep a journal or a worry log. These can be private, or they may wish to share them with you.

Avoid Making Promises

We can’t promise our children that “everything will be ok” or that “there is nothing to fear.” We all perceive the world differently, worry about different things and react to situations in our own way. Instead of making promises, try to reframe the situation so your child can look at their worries differently.

Geraldine Walsh

Mum of two Geraldine Walsh happily works from home as a freelance writer chatting about parenting, wellness and mental health.

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