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Teens, Cell Phones & Social Anxiety

My Teen Daughter Calls Me to Avoid Friends

Dear Dr.G.,

I think that I'm feeding into my teen daughter's problems. She is a 15 year old girl. She has always been a bit shy and has never been very comfortable in social situations. After she warms up though and gets to know people she is fine. She has made a few good friends from the swim team. She spends time with these girls on the weekends but doesn't mingle well when they are not around. I know this because I have observed it and others have mentioned it to me.

I think that I have made the problem worse. I told my daughter that she can call me or text me just to talk if she is in a socially uncomfortable situation. You probably guessed right. Now she is calling me or texting me up to 6 times a day. I think that this is excessive but I have no idea how to handle it without hurting my daughter's feelings.

Please help me.

A Nervous Mother

Dear Mother,

First, I want to say that you were trying to do the best you could for your daughter. Unfortunately, it may have backfired a bit.Your daughter should have the option of calling you if she is in a tricky situation but not simply if she is a bit socially anxious.

It is very important for your daughter to practice being in these situations. It is highly likely that practice will lead to reduced anxiety. If she is on the phone with you then she is being avoidant and not getting much opportunity to develop social comfort, right?

Here are my suggestions. Sit down with your daughter and develop a plan where she gradually starts to call you less. You don't need to have her do this all at once. Next, have her talk to whoever she is comfortable with about her social anxiety. That individual might be a school counselor, a therapist or even a trusted confidante.

We all come into this world with different levels of social comfort. The problem with all of the social technology is that in many cases it prevents us from getting comfortable being around people without a phone or a computer between us.

Good luck.

Dr. G.

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