How to Make Friends: Facing Social Anxiety

Dr. Marcie has an informative chat with Sneha Jhanb.

Sneha is a mother of 2. Her older son is social at school and chats happily at home. Yet, outside of school has a hard time making friends. He says he would rather just play alone or talk with his mother. His mom knows that he is simply avoiding talking to people. Dr. Marcie shares some ways that Sneha (and you) can help her son engage with new people and concur his social anxiety.

This is a situation that Sneha relates to personally as she had her own challenges with social anxiety. After they discuss her son, they talk about her own journey facing social anxiety. Sneha went from having a fear of public speaking to creating a telesummit. Concurring her own fears has led to her being a better parent and a remarkable woman!To test that you’re changes were made go here.


Hi! Dr. Marcie here, from behavior and beyond. Where I bring you realistic ideas for real-life behavior. And Today is another conversation with a phenomenal parent. Sneha is the mom of two, and she herself has her own personal journey but, before we get into her path as a human being brave in the world, we’re gonna chat about her kids and see what’s going on there.  Welcome, welcome!

Sneha: Thank you so much Dr. Marcie for having me.

Dr Marcie: Absolutely! so, you have two boys?

Sneha: Yes!

Dr Marcie: right, a four-year-old and a six-year-old. Tell me what’s going on with them.

Sneha: When my four-year-old is pretty energetic and a happy person more of an opposite spectrum where he just is strong-willed and my older one is kind of strong with two but he has been showing some social anxiety kind of behavior, but when he’s in the classroom and I talked to his teacher and he is pretty much like talking all day and making friends and he’s very comfortable at school.

Dr. Marcie: Great!

Sneha: Oh,He was very comfortable and he’s playing all day long he will talk to us the problem comes when either when we are going to somebody’s house or if there are kids playing outside. All the kids in the bus, he just does not want to interact with them.

Dr Marcie: So what does he do? right so if you you know walk out of your house cuz you’re you’re in Atlanta. You’re in the suburbs right? so you’re I should you know living in Brooklyn kids, don’t go outside and just play right? down the street and play but in your town, you can just like “open up the door!” and there are kids down the street “right oh go play with!”

Sneha: So they’re like, kids playing in everybody’s yards so I say let’s go play with somebody “do you want me to come with you?” and it’s like “no I’m just happy here. I didn’t want to play” and one or two times he tried, playing but he just, shut himself and he doesn’t want to play anymore and I tried to see if something happened but nothing did like I couldn’t figure out what’s going on.

Dr Marcie: Guys, he’s just withdrawn from the other kids. Does he want to be with you or he’s also happy to be by himself?

Sneha: He is happy to be by himself. He likes to play with us. We spend most of our evenings entertaining him.

Dr Marcie: Okay, so, social anxiety is a huge topic! There are there are more and more kids that are either you know their parents are knowing noticing more anxiety or are actually being diagnosed with anxiety disorders and challenges. There so first and foremost, know that you’re not alone, right? that lots of other parents are in the struggle trying to figure it out as well. Thank you for coming and talking to me about it because it can be hard to have this conversation.

Sneha: all right!

Dr Marcie: The really good news is that, he has the skill set, you know that at home. He’s willing to be chatty and engaged in social and you know in school.

Sneha: right!

D  Marcie: So that says to me okay he’s able to have friends it’s not just mom and dad and his brother that he wants to hang out with. So what’s the difference between school and you know, running out down the street that the change is it for him? and so my guess is the structure of it, or the familiarity of it. Is there, how often is he playing with the kids down the shooter, how often does he see that?

Sneha: He sees them every day. We have moved here and we moved here from Las Vegas. Now, I live in Atlanta and there our backyards were closed up so we didn’t really have like kids playing on the street. So for the last year we have seen more kids playing in their backyards. Our backyards are attached and misses them everyday and he sees them every day.

Dr Marcie: So that familiarity piece is in a difference between school and these kids so we can take that off the table which is great as a factor

Sneha: right

Dr Marcie:  I think, we can remove is also good.

Sneha: right.

Dr Marcie: The other might just be a preference.He knows you he knows how to engage with you and because growing up you know until five that wasn’t an option and now it is it might be a skill that he needs to learn of, why I don’t know how to walk up to you know a quote-unquote stranger and just say “hey! what are you doing?” or “hey let’s play that!” without without a structure around it.So does he do better if it’s a playdate if it’s a set up time to play and hang out with the kid as opposed to like “let me walk into their backyard” or “let me just see what’s happening.”

Sneha: Oh, I haven’t had too many playdates in a long time but he does he does do better in playdates yeah also like in the situation in other structured situations like we take him to tennis class or baseball he loves playing but he will not talk to the other people and in tennis it doesn’t matter as much but in baseball like you’re a team he will not interact.

Dr Marcie: and sitting in the juggle you’re, you’re hanging out for a while and baseball?

Sneha: yeah.

Dr Marcie: So, I would start with play dates, because you know he’s really comfortable at home and he’s comfortable with you guys. I didn’t fight kids over kids from the baseball team kids from the neighborhood of “hey come on over here!” and I would do one maybe two kids at a time to start start really small build up so that he can become comfortable. Rate the what anxiety really is a salt loop right we get stuck in a thought about the future of “oh my gosh! what’s gonna happen?” what if I say something that doesn’t make sense then, what if I say something and and it’s a joke and they don’t laugh, what if they want to play something I don’t like and they’re just thoughts that he’s getting stuck in and we don’t know which one he’s stuck in so we can’t pull it out and stop it.

Sneha: right.

Dr Marcie: what we can do is put him in situations that we know he’s comfortable in. He’s comfortable at home playing. Yeah, just one small step up, just a little bit. Okay we’re gonna bring in a new kid and have a piece have it be your next-door neighbor’s friend tryouts. So then you’re friends with him so we can run into the backyard or one of the kids from the baseball team have them come over so it’s that small step up then we’ll hopefully generalized.

Sneha: right.

Dr Marcie: The other step of it is to have conversations with him about how to make friends and how to talk about friends and not enough you know adult stuffiness we’re like, “Let’s John should have a 30-minute conversation but how to make friends” not what I’m talking about but on your way to baseball be like “oh my gosh!”. I wonder if you know pick a kid’s name and he’s principal I wonder if John’s gonna be there and if he is you can be like “hey John what’d you do this weekend?” and your son might be like “whatever mom!” enroll you’re his eye. I mean he’s sexy or not 10:00 yet but he still might okay whatever but if you keep giving him these little suggestions of “oh you know, I saw that our neighbor was out there playing with a tee ball before maybe you can bring over your ball and be like hey let’s have a catch hmm!” I’m literally giving the language that he could set.

Sneha: That’s amazing!

Dr Marcie: Yeah, he decides to do, but then at least if you keep giving him and I would repeat the same phrases I would give him maybe five different things he can start with, don’t know how to start a conversation. He’ll know how you know it’s like us as adults when we go to a networking event, we all have to seem like five starter conversations at “Hi,what do you do”? “Hi where do you live?

Sneha: right.

Dr Marcie: We have that, that starting point from there we can die right some of that starting please scale.

Sneha: Mmm, Interesting!

Dr Marcie: Yeah!

Sneha: I think, I thought about them yeah

Dr Marcie: Good! and then the other piece, just to tack it on for you so you get it all at once to do with that is if you’re like “ah you know our neighbors they were playing t-ball and what have you brought over your bat and this one said I just came back from baseball practice you want to play and go?” and I know that he’d be so excited to play with you.So you ramped up the positive. You ramped up the story of this will work he will rent. You ramp up his confidence just so that he can start playing the story of “oh, if I say hey let’s play catch, he’s gonna say,yes!” and if you start giving her those blocks hopefully whatever the anxious thoughts are that are repeating in his head which aren’t successful thoughts will be replaced by the positive ones you’re giving you.

Sneha:  okay.

Dr Marcie:  sound good?

Sneha :  yes it does.

Dr Marcie:  not possible?

Sneha: yes, I think it as possible.

Dr Marcie: yes, yes! A question popped up in my mind, is where it comes as a judgement sometimes and I want to also stop that like labeling where if, if I am with someone and he is not talking to them and the other person asks me “is he shy”? and then I’m like yes he’s shy and then he has this whole label of shy like. How to get away from that?

Dr Marcie:  I would deny the label. Right, and I love this question just so you know because the more we label our kids me with things like shy mean label your kid amazing and fantastic and a superstar all day long but the more we will them as shy or quiet or withdrawn and even things like their picky eater you know all of those things that we say about our kids and I hear that then starts to become their identity so if he’s not talking hey just behaviorally don’t talk for it.

S: Okay.

Dr Marcie: You’re meeting someone and you’re like “hey guys!” most parents will then be like have your son say how do I say hi and when he doesn’t miss oh he’s just right we’re saying really prompt it just wait. If you give him that will he eventually say hi himself. If you don’t fill that void and let everyone feel a little bit uncomfortable what happens? he might step up and step in, in a way that really surprises you. If the other person or you have the inclination to label him as shy you know if it’s you don’t do it and it sounds like you jump which is “awesome!”

Sneha: yeah I just don’t want to like but I see like other people saying it and then I’m like what should I say next and

Dr Marcie:I would say no. I would say no apparently, he just lost his words right now right so I would make it about this moment of I’m not sure why he’s not talking to you but no he’s not shy he chats up a storm at home or at school you know at recess he’s a chatterbox like I would I mean and maybe you don’t want to label him a chatterbox because that has negative connotations to but you want to go to the other end of like yeah this is.This interesting my as opposed to this is who he is because it’s not it’s just in that moment

Sneha: my mmm

Dr Marcie: great or you know once he gets warmed up you know he’ll be your best friend so label the things that you want him to be oh is he shy does he not really like talking to you. Know when he meets new friends it’s different but once once he gets to know, you uh he’ll be your best friend because that would again making the story that you want to see which makes it more likely that it’ll happen

Sneha: right.

Dr Marcie: right? Um, which you know before we actually started recording you and I were chatting a little bit and you know because you just went through this that part of doing things that are hard right? and right now it it feels hard for your son to talk to a stranger to go up to the neighbors for whatever reason the way you get over that heart thing is by going and doing it.

Sneha: right.

Dr Marcie: right and you had a lovely story of how you just did that right which I loved if you wanted to share. You want to share it?

Sneha:I don’t know, do you want me to share it?

Dr Marcie: yeah! well somehow you because to me when when we as adults, when you as a parent are brave that then shows your kids even when they’re not there when they don’t know the story they can feel it in you that you’re overcoming your own fears that you’re only coming your own obstacles, so I would love for you to share it as a model to other parents but you know do the hard thing we ask our kids to do it all the time we have to do you and so you just tells the story.

Sneha : Okay, so last year, I was new starting my own business and I knew everybody was saying that we have to go on videos and talk and I have I had labeled myself as a writer and I didn’t want to do any of the videos and not to be seen I just didn’t want to be seen but I knew that, that was stopping me and I went to a conference it was a transformational conference and they had a question about what is your biggest fear and I raised my hand and I was almost hoping that nobody picks me and and they didn’t pick me and I raised my hand and I said that “I am afraid of public speaking.” and I said that in front of 100 people and they brought me up on stage and they made me say that in front of hundred people and I just said that and I just cried.Crying in front of hundred people and now I smile because I have, I have like literally worked on my fear for the past year. I and, I got so much love in that moment it was just amazing but I came back home I made connections at that conference in a very different loving way because of stepping up and talking about my fear and I ended up doing videos on interviewing 25 40 women on on lives camera and and from then on I have been working on improving my public speaking skills and my camera skills.

Dr Marcie : And I love it and I love it and I love this story in connection with what’s going on with your son because it’s the same challenge right knew it was getting on in on stage or speaking in a bigger more public forum

Sneha: right

Dr Marcie: her son it’s still speaking and it in exact same connection that he so you can really relate to it so I love that and it’s gonna be the same steps for him to take that you took it’s just a matter of you being the one who pushes him to do it because he’s he’s such a little peanut right now.

Sneha: right.

Dr Marcie: that he needs your help in order to be brave he needs your help in order to make friends and speak and and know what to say right in that first conference when you had to get on stage and they handed you the microphone. Whoever was one running that conference said to you just tell them you’re scared. It a view the words of what to say and you said I’m scared of speaking in public and then they calling us to another question so you talked a little bit but it was guided do the same my son and it will change his capacity to connect and speak in public. Sound good?

Sneha: yes!

Dr Marcie: Let me know how it goes because I love success stories!

Sneha: Sure!

Dr Marcie:  All right! and so I wanna wrap up because this feels like a really good couple steps for you to go start with, do you know that you’re part of your journey and your path is also to help parents ready to create a life for parents that is less stressful and while my specialty is specifically around the behavior with their children. And as parents you do it on a on a grander scheme so I would love for you to share just a little bit of what it is that you do so that if parents are looking for less stress in their life. You’re the right match for you that they won’t know to connect with you. So a summary of what it is you do in the world.

Sneha:  I help people with their anger and anxiety emotions,and I do it with helping people with understanding where their emotions come from related to their past and whatever that has happened to them, or and to to make them see how all these things have happened for them in their lives and just change their perspective yeah and and I do this based on my own experience of being a stressed working professional becoming a parent and being more stressed and then changing my perspective.

Dr Marcie : Awesome! and I think, I mean to me that’s where the best trainers come from right because I also know that you’ve done your due diligence to get trained how to do this well.

Sneha: right.

Dr Marcie: and coming from your own experience you’re also doing your work to face your own fuelers to combat your own anxiety to be braver yourself, so why not work with somebody who walks their walk and talk so talk so that you are walking hand-in-hand with your clients which I love!

Sneha: thank you!

Dr Marcie: Yeah, absolutely! so we’re gonna wrap up here, because this has been awesome and great and I think has had some really powerful Nuggets for you to go do with your kiddo hold on

Sneha: all right.

Dr Marcie: So thank you out there listening for joining us! because I know that your time is precious and as a parent there are so many things that you need to juggle in do. So I’m grateful that you spent your time here I hope that you found some amazing nuggets for your family if you’re looking for more I do conversations like this all the time in my small. Oops! where I get a small group of parents together and for a month we dive into the behaviors of what’s going on with their kids how behavior works you really feel empowered as a parent knowledgeable and capable of going and changing your kids lives to bring in more happiness and more amazing moments for your family and if you want more information about my small groups about being a less stressed parent about anything else behavioral that I can share please shoot me an email at info at behavior beyond net and my team and I will make sure to get back to you with the answers that will help you the most have an amazing day and remember blue skies are ahead we’re gonna get there together you