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Go Out There and Just DO IT!

By July 1, 2012Blogs

School is done. Summertime is here. What does that mean? More FUN IN THE SUN!
For many of us, summer is the perfect time to spend precious moments with our families. For children, it’s the best time to engage in more recreational activities, go to camps, or just spend the lazy days of being out of school hanging out with friends. Summer is typically a fun time for everyone; smiles and laughter all around.
However, there are kids who have a difficult time being around others. These aren’t kids who are just shy. These are kids who are truly afraid of interacting with others. For children with Social Anxiety Disorder, they avoid social and/or performance situations for fear of being judged, humiliated, or embarrassed. Their intense anxiety keeps them from enjoying many of the fun activities that you and I may take for granted.
Looking back at my childhood, I realized that I’ve had my own social anxiety moments, like being afraid to camp with friends, or playing outside with the neighborhood kids. I even quit my piano lessons because of recitals. I had no problem learning piano with my instructor or practicing solo at home, and I actually played quite well. However, the fact that I was required to play in front of many people made me extremely anxious. I imagined, the audience were music pros and really knew their music. They would talk about me if I messed up, and I would be humiliated.  Even worse, these people would look at my parents in pity, and embarrass them too! It wasn’t until much later that I regretted quitting piano, because if I had continued, I would’ve added another positive skill to my repertoire.
My parents were supportive despite my decision to quit. Yes, they were disappointed, but didn’t force me to continue. In fact, being a big fan of self-improvement, my dad gave me much advice and encouragement that was priceless to my development. He would constantly tell me to go out there and just do it! “So what if you make mistakes or make a fool of yourself? It’s part of growing up.” Over time, I understood that it was more important to learn from those mistakes, and do things differently in the future to avoid making the same mistakes. It doesn’t mean that you’ll get it right the very next time around. What matters is that you tried and gained experience doing it. You might feel embarrassed at first, but you’ll feel better for trying. You’ll also have less regrets.
I trusted my dad and heeded his counsel despite the anxiety I felt. I joined the volleyball team at school, and we won two consecutive championships. Although we placed second in my senior year, it was okay, because there were no regrets! As I gained confidence, I even joined singing competitions. I never won, but took satisfaction from just being able to get through auditions and preliminary rounds. Having this newfound courage enabled me to do better at school. From being an average student who was always floating in the middle of the pack, I elevated myself to be a constant presence in my class’ Top 10. I competed and won Quiz Bees, participated in numerous clubs, and joined the choir at school and at church. My dad’s simple, heartfelt advice allowed me to have all of these experiences and turn into a well-rounded person.
So for parents with anxious children, keep encouraging them. They may not be able to openly share their experiences with you. However, take the time to casually sit with them, encourage them, and let them know that you support them no matter what. Having that assurance can really boost an anxious child’s confidence. Most importantly, be patient and understanding.