How to Help Your Teen With Social Anxiety

January 1, 2023

It’s been almost 3 years since the COVID-19 pandemic, and in some ways, we are still learning how to reintegrate back into life. For many adolescents with social anxiety, the pandemic gave them a reprieve from experiencing their anxiety but the lack of social interaction with others also served to maintain it. Teens who live with social anxiety have an intense fear of humiliation, embarrassment, rejection, and judgment from others which causes them to avoid social situations. For some, the anxiety becomes so great that it interferes with daily life and teens start to avoid going to school, church, or other spaces people will be present. Parents may feel helpless and give in to their child’s desire to avoid social situations. Unfortunately, the act of avoidance actually increases anxiety and makes it worse.

So how can you help your teen? Gradual exposure to anxiety is key. It gives teens the opportunity to challenge their distorted thoughts and beliefs that may cause their fear.  Invite them to spend time with small groups of people. Explain that not going to school, an event, or getting together due to anxiety will make their anxiety worse. Set a mutual time limit for how long they are in the social situation. 

Utilizing mindfulness skills is another great way to cope. Being present in the here and now while noticing how one is feeling in the moment without judgment can be helpful. Oftentimes, we’re thinking about the past or worrying about the future when we’re feeling distressed. 

If you’ve tried many avenues but to no avail, Meier Clinics offers an intensive outpatient program just for high school-aged teens called Breakaway. This after-school program is geared toward teens who are experiencing anxiety and/or depression and need more support than once-a-week counseling. The small group settings also make it ideal for the teen who is suffering from social anxiety. The goal is to help the teen re-enter or re-engage in life using research-based methods. For more information on Breakaway click on the link below.

Wheaton Christian Psychologist Jung

Dr. Jane Jung is the director of the Meier Clinics’ Breakaway program in Wheaton, IL and has worked with individuals, couples, and families for 15 years on issues such as anxiety, depression, complex PTSD, low self-esteem, relationship struggles, parenting, major life transitions, and spiritual faith issues.

Located in our Wheaton office


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