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Arlin Cuncic

Children with SAD: To Comfort or Not?

By December 23, 2007

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If you have a child with social anxiety disorder (SAD), or even just a child who is extremely shy, it can be troublesome to watch him or her struggle in new and unfamiliar situations. As a parent, you are likely to find yourself comforting or consoling your child if he or she becomes upset by meeting strangers or entering a new group of peers. Unfortunately, research by developmental psychologist Jerome Kagan of Harvard University, indicates that comforting your child in these situations may do more harm than good.

Instead, research indicates that providing your child with coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety on his or her own is the best approach. If you know that a particular situation is going to be stressful, try to plan ahead and give your child tools that he or she can use to manage anxiety. By teaching your child to self-soothe, you give him or her the confidence to overcome problems alone. Unless the situation is problematic and requires intervention, such as with bullying and teasing, try allowing your child to cope before jumping in to comfort.

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