It’s tricky isn’t it when your anxious child may really struggle in social situations such as a play date or an after school club, does your child cry or refuse to go?
I know that on my recent anxiety workshop, ( thank you, everyone, who came) these are the common problems parents were facing. We acknowledged just how hard it is to know when to push and when to step back. Unfortunately, I don’t have the ultimate” to do list” but here are some ideas that may help now that its Spring:
Ideas to help your child in social situations:
Ensure that your child understands what anxiety is and what happens to them. Normalise anxiety, sit down and explain it. Even young children can understand this if you use superhero’s or characters. Help them to learn to breathe, relax, here is my safe place exercise that is for all age groups. Remember they may need to practice it many times prior to feeling safe.
2. Break it down, we call this exposure work in cognitive behavioral therapy
You may want to use stories, drawings, puppets. With one child, we made up a story about a boy who was afraid to go cubs ( even though he really wanted to) we did role play and puppets so he was able to practice what to say.
Use the ladder of success to break down each step and do it with your child even if they are young.
3.Externalise the problem
Know that this is “the anxiety” and a part of your child, using language that does not blame or shame can really help. Find a language for the anxiety, such as the “worry boss”.
4.Adjust your expectations
You may have to take many steps to get where you want too, and this can be really frustrating. Ensure you have friends that may be going through the same situation and you can support each other in all the ups and downs.
5. Help them to find a buddy/friend
Sometimes it can be as simple as finding common ground or arriving with someone with whom your child is already comfortable. Most people feel more at ease entering new social situations with a partner, so why shouldn’t children? Invite a child around for supper or a play date first to break the ice.
“A lot of kids will tell me they’ll go to football practice for example, but only if they know someone who goes there.
In addition, do inform the coach if it is a team or club leader then you all know what to do if your child gets panicky.
6. Praise and be positive
When your child reaches a new step, praise praise praise and use this when there are struggles. Be positive and don’t fall into the negativity trap.
Here is my weekly praise list in case you missed it Free Download, Praise Matters, words really do matter and the language we use can affect positive change.