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Social anxiety in adolescence, why it comes and how to overcome it

Social anxiety in adolescence, why it comes and how to overcome it

When I was in high school I was really a shy and clumsy boy.

I often felt like a fish out of water and I could not easily feel peaceful and happy with my friends. Not that I had no friends, I was full of people around me with whom to share many passions, such as music, guitar, a vision of life that at the time was very antagonistic and “against the system”. However, as maybe it happened to you and many young people too, I felt insecure, inadequate and my mind produced images of despair, often projecting scenarios where I was wrong, I was derided, mocked by others, and in some way I did some terrible , unrecoverable fool. >> Our brain physiologically goes through different phases during our development. Just as our body changes,

There are two main “window periods” in brain development.

One ranges from around 5 to 7 years old, around the time a child enters primary school. During this time the brain has a real explosion of new nerve connections, and creates billions of new synapses that allow for rapid learning. Imagine a forest in spring: it’s all a sprouting of new leaves, branches and ultimately of life. Another fundamental period is that which goes from 11 to 13 years, a period that we generally call pre-adolescence. Here the boy’s brain, on the other hand, carries out the so-called “pruning of the dendrites”.
In a nutshell, the brain naturally gets rid of all the dry branches that are no longer needed. There is therefore a great death of nervous connections, precisely with the function of leaving alive and healthy the “few” who really need. These two window periods turn out to be extremely delicate from a psychological point of view. And now we’ll see why. In the period of the first window (5/7 years) the child enters for the first time in a real school context , compares himself with his peers, with the teachers and therefore with educational figures who do not have the emotional involvement of the mother. In this delicate phase, traumas can leave important marks on the child’s psyche. By trauma we don’t just mean serious abuse events or major misfortunes. Traumas can also be apparently insignificant episodes for an adult, but which create an overload in the child’s brain that he is not yet able to manage. Think of the family situations in which the spouses often quarrel. The child suffers from these quarrels because he tends to blame himself. In other words, the child is unable to think: “my parents fight because they have a problem with each other, they will solve it and I can be safe”. On the contrary, the child tends to think: “I am wrong, it is my fault if my parents quarrel, it is I who am not a lovable child, I have been bad”. If the episodes of psychological or physical violence are continuous, the child learns what Seligman calls “learned helplessness”. He realizes that his every effort to improve the situation is futile, so he has nothing left to do but resign himself to what he doesn’t want. By generalization he learns that his efforts in life are doomed to failure, and that there is little point in making a commitment to change things. It is easy to understand that learned impotence is strongly related to depression or in any case to a sort of resigned sadness that leads the child to become an adult who will often feel “impotent” in the face of difficulties. The Mindset, the mental attitude that develops, will be dysfunctional in achieving its goals. The child and the future adult have learned that one can only hope that things will go fairly well, and that their commitment is of little use to change reality and one’s own condition, even the working one.

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In the period of the second brain window (11/13 years) the insertion takes place in the middle school , and the boy lives the phase that we define as pre-adolescence. In this period the kids seem “half chickens”, that is they are neither boys nor children. Hormonal development begins to appear in the external physical features, and the boy’s mind has strong and often sudden fluctuations, so much so that in some moments he looks like a child who requires care and attention, other times he claims his autonomy and wants to do things as adults. In this phase it is essential that the family and school climate are supportive and bring the child to feel understood in its difficulties, in its emotions, and above all loved and accepted for what it is, without wanting to upset and change it at all costs. Pre-adolescent boys are very sensitive to the way they are treated, especially by their peers. It is the age when the judgment of the classmate becomes more important than that of the reference adult. Learning to communicate better with the boys and teaching them to communicate better with each other would already be a very important factor in preventing discomfort. In this phase, it is very useful to let the children pass certain basic values ​​such as commitment, respect for others, solidarity, cooperation, joy and trust in others. Perhaps the most important thing in this educational process is keeping a dialogue openmade not only of words, but of emotional closeness. In this way it is possible to grow together with the children and make them ready to face adult life. Instead, what we often see as psychologists working with parents is a general tendency to be too overprotective of children. On average, the parent tries to spare the child any difficulty or “fall” or “mistake”, to protect and preserve it from life’s difficulties. In this way, however, the child does not become stronger in the brain, and he will be an insecure adult with few resources when he grows up. I don’t mean that we have to leave the children to their sad fate and not take care of them and their problems. Rather, we parents should consider ourselves as coaches, emotional coaches who can support, give advice, especially emotional support, but who cannot go to play the game in place of their athletes. Sometimes, in fact, parents in an attempt to spare their children any source of difficulty or suffering, pass a dangerous message between the lines: “you are not capable, leave it alone, I will do it for you”. The boy who sees himself treated in an overprotective manner does not have the possibility of making a mistake in order to grow, because his parents made him believe that making a mistake is something negative, which must be avoided at all costs, because it is dishonorable and shameful. Since most human communication takes place on a NON-verbal level, the parent does not need to explicitly say to his child these words: “you are not able to do it and you will never be, I will do it for you, don’t worry, you just have to stay here by my side and satisfy my psychological needs “. These messages pass on a more subtle level, and can be the basis of many insecuritiesas adults and a dysfunctional Mindset that also has repercussions on a working level. The adolescent boy raised in an overprotective environment, but emotionally weakened, will feel tired, unmotivated, helpless and unable to face the challenges of life. When he has to look for or create jobs, he will have a thousand doubts about himself. Indeed, it is more correct to say that he will have the conviction of not being able and will mentally repeat himself “I am not good! I am not able “It is easy to understand that these subconscious convictions will provoke in relationships with other behaviors of a certain type, tending towards shyness, closure, distrust, discouragement. In a world of work like the present one where mental flexibility, the ability to reinvent yourself every day, to innovate and be creative are the basis of success, that type of weakening attitude will produce harmful results. The young adult will then see his initial confirmations confirmed: “it is therefore true that I am not capable, now I have proof!” To defuse this dangerous vicious circle of learned helplessness and inadequacy, it is necessary to work on the educational level and from childhood on the transmission of some simple concepts and values. First of all you have toletting children know that making mistakes is beautiful, because it is necessary for learning and growth. Anyone who makes no mistake is no better than others, simply much more likely is not doing anything truly challenging and meaningful. If you want to raise the bar of your results you have to take into account that you will fall many times, that you will be wrong, that you will sometimes feel frustrated and confused. But you must always remember that these steps are necessary for your personal and professional growth. We must therefore go from “I am not able” to “I am NOT STILL capable”. Then introduce the Time factor at the basis of any learning. Only by overcoming the wrong emphasis given to natural talent, and instead favoring the results deriving from the real commitment, can we educate young people to the fundamental values ​​of tenacity, determination, constancy and resilience. In a world where we want everything, we want it immediately and without any effort, we can recover the values ​​of perseverance, commitment and a little sacrifice, as a basis for the realization of our goals. Also because, only by overcoming progressively greater difficulties, stress and frustrations, can young people become responsible and resilient adults. Ultimately during the adolescent phase we reap the fruits of early childhood education.We must therefore, as Giorgio Nardone would say, help parents to help their children, so that the limits and rules that they set during development are no longer considered as obsolete and by now outdated legacies of the past, but the beginning of a functional training for the future of our society. In this process, Psychology, understood as human science, can help many parents to know and put into practice a series of educational and communicative devices and strategies that go in the direction of empowering children and preventing all psychological and social problems. . I like to report my book entitled “Competent Parents” which has this purpose and provides many practical keys to parents who want to question themselves and improve their parenting skills. Because if it is true that there are no perfect children, it is equally true that parents are not born, but they also become thanks to their mistakes, their questions and above all thanks to the humility of those who never consider themselves arrived, but in continuous training and improvement. © Copyright protected article, any unauthorized use will be sanctioned in accordance with the law of Good Life dr. Roberto Ausilio, Health Psychologist and Psychotherapist