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My 4-year-old won't speak to anyone but immediate family members.

My daughter is 4 years old and is has been in preschool since she was 3. She is very happy, outgoing, and talkative at home with myself, my husband, and her older sister. However, she won't speak to the teachers or other kids at school...or even aunts and uncles whom we visit occasionally. She has literally gone an entire year without speaking to her teachers and they are getting concerned that it is taking so long. Currently, she shakes her head or nods to respond. She will speak to me in front of them but not directly to them. I do recell that when she took a ballet class and a riding lesson this past fall, she did speak to her instructors..although very reluctantly...but for some reason that was easier for her.

She seems normal and well-adjusted in other ways. I wonder how long to wait this out before seeking professional help. She seems so happy otherwise that I don't know what to think. Has anyone ever experienced anything like this?

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Asked by goldenmare1967 at 8:28 PM on Jan. 6, 2013 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 1 (3 Credits)
Answers (13)
  • Thanks everyone. I am wary of labeling her shyness in such a way just yet...but I understand why selective mutism has been brought up as a possibility. I see it as extreme shyness but I'm no expert. I'm just very wary of labeling her so early on with something so specific. For all I know, this could be a power issue because she seems so confident otherwise. But we'll see. She will be getting help via an early intervention program soon. I want to thank everyone for the feedback and sharing your views. I will leave an update since perhaps it could be helpful to other parents.

    Comment by goldenmare1967 (original poster) at 12:16 PM on Jan. 12, 2013

  • My goddaughter was like that. she was just really shy but opened up to only certain people. I was one of her certain people. She would come over my house and hide from my other family members but play with me and talk to me and he mother and her father and grandparents. but she grew out of it. Not sure how she was in a school setting but she is 19 now and outgoing and just regular. She is still quiet but nothing compared to when she was a kid. Sometimes kids are selective. But I woul bring it up to her doctor.

    Answer by lambdarose at 11:38 PM on Jan. 19, 2013

  • My daughter was the exact same way. She would talk to her kindergarten teacher last year when it was just the two of them and she had a boy in her class that she would whisper to and he would relay the message to the rest of the class. This year started off w/ her whispering to her teacher. I had her evaluated by a child psychiatrist who diagnosed her w/ Selective Mutism. Yes, it can be seen as extreme shyness, but it's more of an extreme social anxiety. She was put on anti-anxiety meds and has made some improvements... she read an entire book out loud to her teacher! She also made her first friend who she talks to on the phone and has no problem being the girl we know at home around. I take her to see the psychiatrist once a month and she goes to behavioral therapy twice a month. I recommend that you at least have your child evaluated by a professional who has experience w/ SM and where you go from there is up to you.

    Answer by mkmorin at 12:08 AM on Feb. 3, 2013

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