Living with anxiety makes social and academic situations challenging. Sometimes this can stop children from getting wellness benefits out of after school activities. Fortunately, there are proven strategies to help kids cope. As parents or individuals trying to get the most out of after-school opportunities consider these tips to manage social situations.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Many people living with social anxiety get significant benefit from relaxation techniques. Children can develop a regimen of deep breathing and mindfulness exercises to ease or prevent the onset of anxiety. Breathing in particular can help stop the rapid heart rate or dizziness that sometimes comes with an anxiety attack.
Choose Appropriate Activities
Some after-school activities are harder than others. Try things that involve small groups or limited interaction with other people. For example, joining the swim or track team involves getting to know others, but participating at an individual level.
Exercise, Sleep and Eat Well
Often what a child puts into their body affects their ability to manage school anxiety. Try to avoid caffeinated beverages. Regular sleep patterns, including on weekends, can help establish a positive, healthy routine. Staying active, even through solitary means such as walking, contribute to a child's overall ability to handle anxiety.
Learn to Recognize Negative Thoughts
Many people with social anxiety have negative beliefs about themselves in relation to others. As part of a coping strategy, try to halt bad thoughts and turn them into neutral or good thoughts. For example, before attending an after-school activity, instead of believing that it won't go well, remember that the worst thing possible is not likely to happen.
Talk About Worries and Fears
Parents can make things easier by encouraging their child to talk to them. Let them know it's safe to discuss their fears. Talk about positive aspects of the after-school activity that the child can look forward to. For example, the group leader may be a favorite teacher or the activity itself may be something the child particularly enjoys.
Take Small Steps
Even with a number of techniques at their disposal, children with social anxiety can still find after-school activities challenging. Sometimes it's okay to not dive in all at once. Instead of choosing an activity with a frequent commitment, choose something that takes place less often or for a shorter duration. That can help kids ease into a new social environment.
Adjustment takes time. It may be easier to overcome challenges when they are dealt with slowly. As a parent or someone living with school anxiety, know that it's okay to struggle, and there are ways to help make it better over time.
If your child struggles to connect socially, contact Brain Balance Achievement Centers. We can help address the underlying causes of their challenges and help get them back on track so they can succeed at school and at home.
For over a decade, we’ve helped over 30,000 children improve the critical skills needed to create a brighter path for their future. Contact us online to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help. You can also view the research and results of the program on the website.