Reluctance to speak in certain situations is usually accompanied by extreme anxiety, although the child may be happy to speak at other times. It can be very frustrating for the child and can prevent them participating in activities. It is sometimes misunderstood by others as awkward or uncooperative behaviour, which results in further upset for the child.
How can I help my child?
- Help to reduce your child's anxiety. Spend time with your child doing activities he or she enjoys.
- Take the pressure off your child to speak .
- Avoid asking direct questions in situations where your child is reluctant to speak. Don't insist your child says please or thank you. You could say "Thank you .We all enjoyed seeing you."
- Acknowledge the problem. Give your child the chance to discuss their feelings about talking.
- Ensure others understand the problem and don't put pressure on the child to speak by asking questions. You could say, " Sarah is a bit shy in new situations. She will talk when she is ready."
- The child may be more comfortable if others avoid eye contact in certain situations.
- If your child whispers to you, use a normal voice rather than whisper back.
Find out more about selective mutism
Find out more about:
What causes selective mutism?
When to seek help?
What to expect from treatment?