Dr Richard C Woolfson
Self-consciousness leads your child to think that everyone is staring at her, that they all have a low opinion of her and possibly even that she looks silly. The net impact is that she “dries up” with her peers, she can’t think of anything to say, her face goes bright red and her eyes are glued to the ground. All she wants is to be somewhere else!
If you know your child is prone to episodes of self-consciousness, get her into the habit of planning ahead. Suppose, for instance, she is scheduled to attend a party organised by one her classmates, but the very thought of it makes her anxious. Suggest something practical to make her feel less self-conscious, such as arranging for her to meet a friend before the party and go there together so there will be less attention on her when she arrives. She could also consider in advance exactly what she intends to say to her host when she gets there. In other words, get her thinking ahead so she can anticipate and reduce those awkward social moments that may cause her to feel self-conscious.
In addition, reassure her that she has nothing to be self-conscious about, that she is a wonderful person, that the others really do like her and that there is nothing wrong with her appearance or abilities that would draw any adverse attention to her. Point out her strengths and spell out why her friends like her. This strategy encourages her to think positively, and not to worry about what might go wrong when she is with her peers.
Lastly, remind your child of all those episodes when she managed socially without any problems. Ask her to consider why she was not self-conscious on those occasions – perhaps it was what she wore, the way she stood or what she said. Discuss this with her. If she can learn effective strategies to beat her self-consciousness by analysing her previous social successes, then so much the better.
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