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Helping Your Teenager With Social Anxiety


teenager with social anxiety at a playground

Adolescence is a time period filled with physiological growth and maturation. The brain of a young person remains underdeveloped until age twenty-five (at the earliest). Though the external appearance of teenagers may be confused with that of an adult, internally teens are operating with an underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex (area of the brain that reins rational thought, impulse control, executive planning, etc.). Instead, adolescents rely on the amygdala (area of the brain that governs one’s emotions, impulsivity, emotional behavior, and motivation) to process external stimuli. It is for good reason that young people are notoriously viewed, as hypersensitive, impulsive, wildly emotional beings. While there are numerous distinct reasons why young people may develop social anxieties, some of the cause is simply out of their control as it could be attributed to underdeveloped brain functioning. It is virtually impossible to avoid experiencing some level of social anxiety during adolescence. Learning effective coping mechanisms and various strategies to navigate social anxiety can not only be helpful in navigating the teenage years, but also serve as useful tools long into the future. 

How To Help

It is no secret that young people experience and endure countless emotions during adolescence many of which are interconnect and can greatly contribute to compounding insecurities. As parents it is incredibly difficult to watch your child struggle as for most, there is an intrinsic desire to help whenever possible. It is important to bear in mind that not all strategies will resonate with each young person, as every teen is unique. Consider the following suggestions to help your teenager with social anxiety:

  • Help your teen cultivate an armory of relaxation techniques: there are a plethora of different relaxation methods (e.g. meditation, yoga, listening to music, exercise, creating artwork, reading, etc.) and not all options will be applicable to every situation. For this reason it is important to expose your teen to a variety of relaxation techniques and encourage your teen to integrate them into his or her daily life. 
  • Exposures: although it may be tempting to shield your teen from experiencing discomfort, providing your child with the opportunity to face challenging experiences (instead of avoiding experiences that may be anxiety producing) can help boost self-esteem and increase self-confidence. 
  • Know your parental limitations and when to get professional help: if your teen is progressively exhibiting increased bouts of social anxiety it may be beneficial to consult with a mental health professional so as to develop a customized plan to provide your child with ample support. 

A teenager with debilitating social anxiety goes beyond feeling a little bit nervous prior to engaging in a social situation. A mental health professional can, not only support your teenager with his or her social anxiety but can also help you learn effective strategies to best support your child.

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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