Is your child extremely shy and afraid to speak up? This is the reason why

Is your child extremely shy and afraid to speak up? This is the reason why

Never assume that he or she will simply outgrow it; it can be overcome, but the older a child gets, the long it takes.

Many factors contribute to a child’s development. For this reason, every child is different, possessed of his own character traits and personality.

Some children are more into sports, while others more into art. Some children are open, and others more reserved.

However, if your child is extremely shy and find it difficult to speak up, chances are he or she is suffering from an anxiety disorder.

It usually starts in early childhood when a child leaves the family circle for nursery or school, as per a Mirror story.

Although this disorder may never leave those who have it, lasting until well beyond their adult years, there are ways parents and guardians can help a child work his or her way through the problem.

“It’s important to understand that a child isn’t refusing to speak but is actually unable to speak, feeling frozen. Think of selective mutism as a phobia of talking,” says doctor and author Miriam Stoppard in the Mirror story.

“Most children will work their way through the problem with sympathetic support, although they may remain reserved and anxious in social situations.”

According to her, selective mutism cased by anxiety disorders affects one in 150 children and is more common with girls. In fact, most primary schools will know at least child who suffers from it.

Symptoms of selective mutism include nervousness, clinginess, and extreme shyness. They are socially awkward, communicates with gestures likes nodding or shaking their head and whispering.

They are also possessed with a debilitating fear of using public toilets.

Find out how you can help as a parent on the next page

It is important to remember that these children aren’t being manipulative, and they are also not autistic, Miriam says.

However, left untreated, selective mutism may lead to isolation, low self-esteem, and crippling social anxiety in adulthood.

“With diagnosis at a young age and appropriate management, however, children can successfully overcome it,” says Miriam. “So, the condition needs to be recognized early by families and schools so that they can work together to reduce the child’s anxiety about talking.”

It’s also important to check with a speech therapist or GP is your suspect that your child has it.

Never assume that he or she will simply outgrow it; it can be overcome, but the older a child gets, the long it takes.

Miriam also advises the following:

  • You can help a child with selective mutism by showing you understand they’re scared to speak
  • Don’t embarrass your child by praising them publicly for speaking. Do it when you’re alone together
  • Reassure your child that smiling and waving without actually speaking is fine until they feel better about talking
  • Ask friends and relatives to give your child time to warm up at their own pace and not be tempted to cajole them into talking before they are ready

READ: 6 ways parents contribute to their child’s anxiety

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Sinulat ni

James Martinez

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