When children do not speak to certain people it is commonly mistaken for shyness, stubbornness, rudeness or attention seeking. Despite talking freely in other situations, we cannot assume they are choosing not to speak or lack the motivation to engage.
Consistent inability to speak in certain situations is usually linked to a specific phobia of talking which, if mishandled, can become increasingly entrenched and difficult to overcome.
It is important to understand the difference between shyness, refusal or inability to speak. Above all teachers, parents and carers need to know how to handle the silence appropriately.
Facilitating participation, engagement and verbal interaction are fundamental, however, sometimes adults do not realize that their behavior can be anxiety provoking and at school students with Selective Mutism fall deeper into withdrawal, isolation, and avoidance.
We will discuss how staff and parents can recognize the difference between shyness and ‘selective mutism’ and work together to help children and teens break their silence.
This training will also equip concerned parents with a toolbox of effective skills and strategies that they can use to help their anxious child feel reassured and develop the confidence to overcome their anxious emotions.