Social anxiety in teens is very common and very difficult to navigate. Feeling self-conscious, nervous or shy in front of others is very natural. Therefore, one needs to distinguish between social anxiety and shyness. Social anxiety goes beyond feeling self-conscious or shy as the individual experiences extreme fear and nervousness when they need to interact with others or speak in public and, thus, it limits their ability to function in certain situations.

Navigating Social Anxiety: Impact, Coping Strategies, and Seeking Help

Social anxiety is a mental health problem where the body and mind react as if the danger is real. As per the “fight or flight” response, even though these social situations wouldn’t be dangerous. Consequently, individuals struggle to have normal relationships and interactions, leading to diminished relationships, withdrawal and overall isolation.

In addition to the above, teenagers may start taking less care of themselves. Feel increasingly lonely, and reduce contact with family members. As a result of this withdrawal, they might miss opportunities for growing friendships or academic growth. In terms of self-esteem, this would also be negatively impacted as they might be more afraid of being judged or disliked by others. Due to their fear of speaking up and calling attention to themselves, teens who experience social anxiety might even neglect their health as they are less likely to share their health concerns with their parents/caregivers and their doctor. 

Eventually, social anxiety in teens may also lead to a depressive disorder. As the lonelier and more isolated they feel, the more they might retreat into themselves and struggle with feelings of worthlessness. Their condition can be aggravated when, as a result, bullying occurs, and they are singled out because of their demeanour and social awkwardness. Conflicts and arguments within the household are also very likely to increase. Especially when parents or caregivers are not understanding of their children’s behaviour and push them into social activities or extracurricular activities that they wouldn’t want to participate in. 

Teaching Healthy Coping Skills

To help a teen with social anxiety, parents might consider teaching them healthy coping skills that they can model and educate them on their importance. Such coping strategies include self-soothing, grounding techniques, or engaging in breathing exercises whenever they feel stressed out. Teens tend to feel less anxious and more empowered in themselves and their ability to interact with others whenever their parents praise and support them. Teens need to be accepted for who they are no matter how different they are from how their parents grew up. 

Despite their resistance to social outings, one can still expose them to opportunities where they can grow and learn from others. Although they may not agree to your suggestions, you would still be generating interest in certain activities. For instance doing voluntary work with them or hosting a gathering at a home with immediate and extended family. Creative outlets also should be encouraged, and attention must be paid to what they are interested in. The same goes for physical activity which releases endorphins and is beneficial for many reasons.

Lastly, if you think that social anxiety is significantly impacting their functioning, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Therapy provides teens with the opportunity to explore their feelings, triggers and emotions. Sometimes, medication, alone or with therapy, can empower teens to manage their social anxiety effectively.

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Johanna Cutajar is a Master in Counselling graduate from the University of Malta. She works with children and adolescents as a counsellor within the education sector on a variety of issues including relationship issues, trauma, bereavement, transitions, and general mental health.


Brognano, A. (2023). Social Anxiety in Teens: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment. Retrieved from