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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)
  • Sounds a little like selective mutism. A friend's son has it. I would get her checked.

    Answer by kmath at 8:30 PM on Jan. 6, 2013

  • There's not a cure, but if it is selective mutism, therapy can help.

    Answer by kmath at 8:34 PM on Jan. 6, 2013

  • There's not really a cure for it. She's using to control her surroundings. They just need to be patient with her.

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 8:32 PM on Jan. 6, 2013

  • My son was/is like that. He just doesn't like big groups of people. His first year of preschool there were 7 other kids in the class and he pretty much went all year without saying anything in school. His 2nd year of preschool he really didn't say anything the first half of the year, unless *maybe* he was one-on-one with one of the teachers. Second half of the year he talked a little bit - more with a little boy he made friends with at recess than during class though. He's in kindergarten now and his teacher's being hard on him as far as grading goes, because he hardly participates in class - but if she or another teacher takes him out of the room and away from everyone, he blows their minds with how much he knows.

    If she's learning and doing well in school otherwise, maybe bring it up with her doctor but I honestly wouldn't be too worried.

    Answer by idareyou at 9:14 PM on Jan. 6, 2013

  • This sounds a lot like my daughter, and she's almost 6 now. She's ALWAYS been super shy. There is a favorite uncle in the family that ALL the kids love to climb all over and roughhouse with. She has NEVER spoken to him, and will run to me and hide if he looks at her. We've been going to taekwondo for almost 6 months now, and only in the past month or two will she say ANYTHING to our main instructor. In the not too distant past we'd actually go somewhere just to get her to shut up. She's a non-stop motor mouth at home, but would say just a few words in the presence of strangers. As she gets older, and with LOTS of reassurances that it's ok to be shy, she's been out growing it.

    I really wouldn't worry about it too much right now. Give her lots of reassurance that it's ok to be shy and that you love her no matter what.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 8:38 PM on Jan. 6, 2013

  • Sounds like selective mutism. My dd had a friend at school with it. She became her "special friend" and if E needed something she would tell my dd and my dd would tell the teachers/classmates. I would check into it, I'm pretty sure E went to therapy as well. Now in 6th grade she's still a quieter girl but will talk to people she knows. It started as whispers in 3rd/4th grade but then she got louder.

    Answer by missanc at 8:59 PM on Jan. 6, 2013

  • Both my children have been shy around adults. My oldest is in 2nd grade now and has become comfortable with speaking to adults he knows, but is still leery of those he does not know. My kindergartner is extremely shy and last year in preschool she would not speak to the teachers until almost the end of the school year and would hide behind DH or I around any adults. She speaks when necessary in school this year but she has taken to meowing when around adults. She has no issue talking to other kids just the adults. I had both mine evaluated and was told they were fine and would grow out of it and sure enough the older one has and the younger one is on her way (she meows now at least!).

    Answer by Anonymous at 7:58 AM on Jan. 7, 2013

  • Selective mutism. My daughter who is 5 is the same way. She has been seeing a therapist for the 2 years. It is best to start treatment earlier! my daughter has never talked to her teachers in preschool. but now she is nodding and has friends that accept her shyness.Get your daughter in as many social activies as possible, little gym, ballet, girl scouts! it really helps.
    pls feel free to email me.

    Answer by Mommyof42013 at 9:52 AM on Jan. 8, 2013

  • My son is 6 and still acts that way... Some kids are just a little more shy. She will out grow it. Dh said he did the same thing... I don't put a lot of stock in "professional" help these days... Some kids are shy...some talk too much... She'll be fine...

    Answer by Ruthmom802 at 9:50 PM on Jan. 11, 2013

  • It's funny the names they put to shyness... I've never heard of selective mutism... Well, if my sister and DH outgrew it, I suppose your daughter will too... I think I was born in the wrong century. UGH

    Answer by Ruthmom802 at 9:53 PM on Jan. 11, 2013

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