Social anxiety increases in unhealthy parent-teen relationships.

Social anxiety increases in an unhealthy parent-teen relationship.

Social anxiety in teens. Positive relationships have a massive role in the emotional development of adolescents. This process begins at home. Children and adolescents take cues from their parents. Especially when it comes to friendship skills. They need a sense of belonging and connection to the family. This gives teenagers the confidence they need to be independent. And have strong healthy relationships with others outside the family.

Research shows that rejection within the family created negative changes in peer friendship. And increased loneliness significantly. Rejection by a father increases social anxiety. Especially in children at primary school.

The defining features of social anxiety disorder are:

  • intense anxiety or fear of being judged
  • negatively evaluated
  • rejected in social or performance environments


Social anxiety affects:

  • a child’s ability to form and keep healthy friendships
  • school academic performance
  • performing on the field during sport
  • other areas of occupational functioning,
  • and increases social isolation.


If this is your child you must not leave the symptoms untreated. These avoidance behaviours will almost certainly result in depression and loneliness.

Obviously not all poor father-child relationships will cause teenage social anxiety. But many will. The teenage years marks the emerging independence of a child. It is critical for parents/carers to evaluate the bonds they have with their children. They also need to pay attention to their behaviour towards their growing offspring.

Below are some guidelines that you may find helpful. But if you child is already affected by any of the things highlighted above please give me a call. I will see them for a free chat and then treat them as required.

Prioritise empathy with their uncertainties.

Adolescence is loaded with change, some of which they may find difficult to handle. How the parent handles the change plays an big role in growing a positive relationship with them.

Empathy is the cornerstone of positive relationships. You must keep this empathy up when your child pulls away from you. Or pushes every button to test your limits. Remain calm and show that empathy, your child desperately needs it.

Passive parenting is a big No-No at this time. You have to use your empathy and connect on a deeper level. Listen far more than lecture. Show them true understanding and compassion. When parents do this, adolescent learn to handle their peer relationships much better.

Make time for them

In this digitally connected world it is difficult' to make time'. Get off your phone and connect for real with your child. They need you to put in the quality time with them. Is there something you both enjoy? If there is then do it. If not find something for you to do together.

Uninterrupted attention and time is what a teenager needs most from a parent. Along with active engagement and understanding.

Solve problems together

Arguing with parents is part of adolescence. Remember that. Teenagers save their biggest emotions and problems to throw at their parents.

One of the big learning curves for an adolescent is to learn to solve problems on their own. But they do not have the maturity or skills to just ignore them. So work with them. Ask relevant questions. Brainstorm solutions with them. Go with their answer - even if you feel it is 'wrong'. Provide emotional support they work through the problem. Support and unconditional love will help your child to work through their issues.

Talk it out not shout it out

There will be ups and downs. Teens are working on independence and carving out their own futures. But parents are working on a different agenda. That is letting go but still being there for the 'leaver'.

Parent shouting at girl with social anxiety

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