M.A, PSY.D in Clinical Psychology
Clinical psychologist
@Islaah Center for Psychological Wellness

You might have seen or heard from others that kid who are very normal and talkative in familiar environment sometimes become so shy and muted in social gathering and this doesn’t last for longer period of time. Reason behind this can be insecure feeling, fear of getting humiliated or criticized. But with time they read the environment around and slowly get comfortable.

Whereas in a second scenario a child who was one a happy go lucky kind and had developed good level of language and communication, suddenly stops talking to everyone around or speaks in at least one setting and are muted in all other settings. This can last for a month or more then it is called as selective mutism. These children get muted because of behavioral inhibitions such as being shy, high level of anxiety specially dealing with social setting and if they had experienced severe trauma or abuse which can be both physical and emotional.

How can we help them?

      • Emotionally muted children cannot overcome by time they need help to overcome their inhibitions, fears and anxiety
      • Don’t pressurize them to speak up this will elevate their anxiety levels.
      • When they make an attempt to speak praise them and give reinforcement.
      • Ask more of open ended questions in order to avoid nonverbal responses
      • Try to communicate to them with play or drawing
      • If required take clinicians help for behavioral management such as desensitization and positive reinforcements.