9 Ways To Help Kids With Social Anxiety Cope With Isolation

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When social anxieties in children manifest during COVID isolation, they need your support and guidance more than ever to get through these challenging times.

Even adults have experienced the adverse effects of isolation and loneliness.

When it's forced on you by an emerging pandemic, it seems like everyone now has a better understanding of the harmful toll of isolation.

So, how do you help your child cope with anxiety when they're socially isolated?

RELATED: How To Raise Courageous Children: 3 Steps To Helping Kids Manage Anxiety

Social anxieties in children have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has turned everyone's world upside-down. Discussions and information about the virus seem to permeate into every aspect of our lives.

With stay-at-home orders extended again and all foreseeable plans and events canceled, we’re all feeling stressed and on-edge.

Children — especially younger ones — take emotional cues from those around them.

If you’re feeling anxious, you can bet your children are feeling the same way, too. So, before you can even begin to help your children with their anxiety, you need to help yourself.

Many things in life follow similar rules to that when an airplane is in an emergency: You should put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.

Trying to help someone with anxiety — when they are taking cues from you while you're anxious — is not going to benefit either of you.

Actions speak louder than words. 

Your children will do as you do, not what you tell them.

This means you need to take the time to address your anxiety and what you are — or maybe aren't — doing to manage it to help your child with theirs.

It’s an unfortunate reality, but one person’s anxiety can negatively affect the wider family unit. And children don’t fully understand what's happening or why a parent is acting the way they are.

Children in these situations tend to blame themselves or grow up feeling even more lonely and isolated.

However difficult this uncertain time may be for you and your children, there are things you all can do together to mitigate the stress and anxiety it may be causing.

Here are 9 ways to help ease social anxieties in children during quarantine.

1. Give children grace.

Recognize that everyone is struggling at this time, including our kids. They may need space to have an emotional moment.

The concerns of children and adults often feel worlds apart, but during shelter-in-place mandates, the reality is, we can all feel similarly. 

Both children and adults are mourning the loss of social connection.

We're all stressed by the forced change of routine and navigating an online world for school, seemingly overnight.

We're all adjusting and working to survive this new reality, and it may not be pretty at times. This increased stress can trigger or worsen anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and PTSD.

2. Find new ways to connect.

Even though we're all mandated to social distance, it doesn't mean we cannot find ways to connect. Humans are hardwired to be social.

There's no doubt about it: Social distancing and isolation create stress, which is only worsened by losing support systems we have all relied upon.

Technology and digital platforms can offer ways to help you remain physically distant, but socially connected.

3. Avoid too much screen time.

Be aware and honest about how increased screen time may be affecting you or your children.

Face-to-face platforms like Zoom or FaceTime can help you feel connected as you reach out to others. However, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or news streams can make you feel more disconnected.

Set rules for yourself and your family on how often and how long everyone uses their devices.

4. Communicate with your children daily.

Talk about both their feelings and concerns, as well as your own.

Being attentive and proactive can help mitigate some of the emotional turbulence and strengthen their ability to build and maintain strong social bonds.

5. Stick to a routine.

Keep some form of a routine during the day to keep a sense of normalcy.

I caution against being too rigid on daily expectations. Again, this is a difficult time, and we all need space to feel these negative emotions.

Too much structure and too high an expectation for the day can quickly increase stress levels and worsen anxiety.

RELATED: 3 Simple, Age-Appropriate Steps For Parents To Talk To Kids About The Coronavirus Pandemic

6. Determine what matters most.

Let go of what you can't control and evaluate your life before the pandemic.

What served you? What didn't?

Instead of going right back to "normal" when we can, bring the changes you what in life with you and create a new dynamic that serves you better.

What matters most? Who matters most? What changes in life can you create that will help you align with this?

7. Exercise as a family.

Spend family time exercising or going for a walk outside.

Both exercise and being in nature have a positive effect on anxiety. And doing something as a family will help strengthen family bonds and connectedness.

8. Practice self-care.

Adopt a self-care routine that actually makes you feel good. Self-care can be an amazing and refreshing much-needed "pick me up" if it doesn't stress you out further.

There's no right or wrong way to self-care if it's doing you a benefit in the end. Self-care doesn't have to be an activity you do or participate in, but can be as simple as how you approach life.

9. Let go of control.

Work towards becoming more comfortable without total control. Having control may feel reassuring, but it's often a false sense of security.

Trying to control life is not sustainable — it takes a mental and emotional toll, only adding to overall stress. The ideal route is somewhere in the middle: Being prepared, but recognizing you can’t control everything.

Even though we may feel isolated, it doesn't mean you or your child have to do this alone.

Reaching out for support and guidance can help your child find stability in such an uncertain time.

RELATED: 15 Calming Things To Say To Your Anxious Child

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Stephanie Gutzmer is a certified yoga therapist and life coach, specializing in health and mindfulness coaching, and holds a doctorate in audiology, specializing in tinnitus. She collaborates with her clients to develop an individualized plan of specific goals and provides guidance to overcome practical and emotional barriers in reaching them. Reach out for support now.

This article was originally published at Life Care Wellness. Reprinted with permission from the author.