Little Maryam is nervous about Zoom classes. “You’ll be fine, In Shaa Allah. Lots of kids get nervous jitters,” you say. At dinner, Maryam pushes her food across her plate; her forehead wrinkled with worry. “I’ve got a tummy ache. I’m not hungry,” she says. In class breakout-rooms, Little Maryam refuses to speak. When the teachers call on her, Little Maryam’s chest aches, and her cheeks redden with heat. Little Maryam is experiencing symptoms of social anxiety.
What is social anxiety? Social anxiety is an intense, excessive fear of social interaction and the judgement that often comes along with it. People with social anxiety can be extremely self-critical and consistently assume harsh judgement from their peers. They may struggle with everyday scenarios like shopping, eating in public, attending gatherings, or meeting new people. They may even overthink social encounters long after they’ve occurred. Despite remote learning, kids can still struggle with social anxiety. Social anxiety can be extremely debilitating, often bleeding into one’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and mental health.
Does this sound familiar? Here are some ways to identify if your child is struggling with social anxiety:
- Chest pain
- Low self-esteem
- Negative, self-critical thoughts
- Ruminating about social situations after they occur
- Assuming that others are harsh and judgmental
- Complaints of physical illnesses in anticipation of social situations
- Avoids social situations, even if it means missing out on something important
- Only going into social events with a friend
- Planning what they will do or say in social situations far in advance.
Now that you can identify some of the telltale signs of social anxiety, here are a few ways you can support your child:
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to make a du’aa seeking refuge from worry saying, “Oh Allah! I seek refuge in You from worry and sadness, from weakness and laziness, from miserliness and cowardice, from being overcome by debt and from being overpowered by men.” (Sahih al-Bukhari). Allah wants us to call upon Him. Teach your child to turn to Allah in times of need by transforming your fears and concerns into consistent dua for your child’s anxiety.
Establish a designated time to release all your worries
“Verily with every hardship comes relief” (Qur’an 94:5). Encourage your child to limit their time spent worrying by giving them a designated 30 minute period each day to express all of their concerns. Choosing the same time every day will help ensure that your child has a safe space and time to worry, rather than throughout the day.
“… Without doubt in the remembrance (Zikr) of Allah do hearts find tranquility” (Quran 13:28). People who are thankful tend to be more optimistic. Help your child think positively by encouraging them to start a gratitude journal.
Find your favorite relaxing activity
Does your child enjoy painting? Hiking? Baking? Allow your child to explore activities to relax and de-stress.
Recognize your triggers
What situations trigger your child’s social anxiety? Helping your child identify their triggers will allow them to better understand and manage their emotions.
Seek professional help
If your child’s social anxiety has begun to interfere with their personal relationships, their ability to attend school, or inhibits them from doing things they’d normally enjoy, it’s time to seek professional help.
Al-Huda School is an accredited K-12 Islamic School, which was founded in 1995 as part of a larger community-building project called Dar-us-Salaam. Al-Huda Global is a newly founded online school based on the founding principles of our original brick and mortar location. For more information on how to provide access to quality online Islamic education from anywhere in the world please visit our website.