HELP! 5 year old won't talk to adults and starting Kindergarten.

Jennifer - posted on 08/26/2010 ( 37 moms have responded )

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My 5 year old will begin school this year. He was in preschool and did well with kids. He just would not speak to adults. I am so nervous for him. Very smart child. Am I over reacting? Everyone tells me he will be fine after a week or two.

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Cynthia - posted on 12/24/2013

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I was extremely "shy" as a child. I did not speak to adults until the age of 12. I remember being in Kinder and taking a verbal test on what I'd learned that year. I knew every answer, but I wouldn't talk to my teacher. That night, my mother told me that I was going to be held back unless I could speak to my teacher. My mother knew I knew the material, and she could not understand why I wouldn't speak to my teacher - or any adult for that matter. That's when teachers became the only adults who had the pleasure of hearing my voice. I kid you not; my aunts, uncles, older cousins and adult friends of the family did not hear my voice until I was 12. None of them understood. They all thought I was dumb.

Looking back, I have never been able to understand my behavior, either. I know that the constant scolding and shaming from my mother, grandparents, aunts and uncles only made it worse. My youngest daughter is showing the same signs, although not quite as severely. I do not make her speak to anyone. My mother tried to make me, and it never worked. Older adults get offended by this, but I remember the feeling, and I refuse to put that kind of pressure on her.

As for Jessica Tai's theory that the child is simply an introvert, I cannot disagree more. This may be the case for some, but in my case, I was extremely social with children my age. Now, at 31, I am still a social person. In my non-expert opinion, giving children labels is never a good idea. "Introvert" is a label. "Selective Mutism" is a condition. It's possible that someone diagnosed with Selective Mutism may simply be an introvert. It's also likely that someone who is being labeled "shy" or "introverted" may have this anxiety condition. Every child is unique, and should be treated as such.

Heather - posted on 08/18/2011

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Thanks Jennifer! I think in the case of my daughter, it's more about her wanting to have some control over a situation in which she's uncomfortable. In a group of kids, or one-on-one playdates, she's perfectly fine. She's always interacted with other kids. But with adults that she doesn't know or isn't comfortable with, she's silent. Example, we were at my parent's house for dinner, and their tradition is for everyone to hold hands during grace. My daughter held my hand, but wouldn't hold my mother's. We didn't pressure her, though. Sure enough, in the middle of the prayer, my mother felt my daughter's hand slide into hers. I just think this is her way of setting boundaries and doing things in her time, on her terms. I'm going to give her some time to adjust to her classroom, and if things don't improve, I may consider consulting a professional. We'll see how it goes. Thanks again!

Balethia - posted on 08/27/2010

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Okay my daughter is like this and she will be 8 in October. She does not particularly like to talk to adults. But in school, well that is a different story. She is very smart and very active in class, just not talkative. We thought we would have problems with her too, but she has been amazing. She just started second grade and is one of the top students. Give hime time and a little space without pressure. I am sure he will do just fine.

Sarah - posted on 11/12/2013

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Consider this - Albert Einstein didn't speak for a very long time. His teachers thought he was slow. And Ronda Rousey, current UFC welter weight champion, didn't talk for years as well.

Maybe he has some deep thoughts and will bring out an amazing creative perspective when he's ready!

However, if you want to see if there are some interventions you can apply to move him towards speaking faster, you might check out this excellent article on the topic:

http://teachmetotalk.com/2008/02/22/why-...

Jennifer - posted on 12/07/2012

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Helen,



When Anthony started school in Kindergarten he would not talk and now that he is in 2nd grade he is very familiar with his teachers and classmates. His therapist did help. Give it time. The main thing that helped me is I didn't force Anthony to talk to anyone. The more I stressed about it, he could sense it. Hang in there!!!

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Jennifer - posted on 06/26/2013

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Thank you Jessica!! I will check into the book. He does exhibit those characteristics of being very content playing by himself. Then other time wants to play with his friends. I really don't like the "labels" either!! Thanks again!

Jessica - posted on 06/12/2013

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Your son is just an introvert!!!! Being treated unfair by the society!!
-----------------------> I have a son like this, I have been reading and doing research, please read Susan Cain book or her video. Susan Cain: The power of introverts | Video on TED.com
I want to speak for all introverts, being an ambivert myself, I can't bear seeing introverts children being 'tortured' and named Selective Mutism...........
The education system can't ignore someone's personality.......Lets help the one who don't like to speak, speak out for them.

Helen - posted on 12/07/2012

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My 6 year old daughter is now in k5 and she will not talk to any adults or her teachers. She is very smart, but getting behind in school because she won't talk. Now she has to see a therapist to see if they can help

Jennifer - posted on 08/21/2012

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Esther,

Anthony turned 5 when he began kindergarten and we went through the selective mutism appts. I thought it was more anxiety as well. I kept wondering how is Anthony talking to a therapist going to help with everyone else. He did do well with the her in the long run. At first, they would even let him point to pictures to get the answer out of him. The school at first would pressure him which made him be even more quiet and not talk. I kept telling them if you leave him alone he will come around. He does do better with a smaller group. He is in a reading group that has helped his skills tremendously. He will be in 2nd grade and has done great. It takes him a while to get adjusted when school starts and with a new routine. What child doesn't?? He does get a little "shy" when he gets around people he doesn't know. It doesn't take him too long to get adjusted. Once he is around someone more than once he is more relaxed. I also believe he could tell I was anxious about it, which made him that much more anxious. Hang in there. Give her time, it will get better. I hope this helps. Feel free to keep in touch. School for us doesn't start until after Labor Day. Let me know how your daughter does and know you are not alone!!

Esther - posted on 08/20/2012

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Hi Jennifer, I see this was about 2 years ago and just wondered how your son got on? I am going through a similar time to the one you went through 2 yrs ago I think. I also have 2 older children. My 5 year old daughter started Kindi this year (it's now Term 3). She always had a reluctance to say the niceties (please, hello, goodbye, thank you which I thought she'd grow out of - she does it v. occasionally now when her guard is down) and although very vocal with peers, she would not usually answer adult 'questions' or respond. She only tends to talk to adults if it is a relaxed setting such as reading to them or if she is playing with them and doesn't feel 'watched'. She is not talking to the teacher in class but will say her words etc. and do her news if her teacher doesn't watch. She sometimes doesn't join in in dance but I think this is when others are watching only. We had a clinical Psychologist watch her in class and they think it is performance anxiety rather than SM as she spoke to them. We have cancelled the SM appointment as it seems a little hasty at this stage and I'm worried it'll put more pressure on her. It seems to be mainly teachers and if friends 'expect' a response to a question or if she's put on the spot. I am hoping it will pass but am working with the school teacher, counsellor and this clinical psychologist to try and encourage her rather than pressurise her. She also bites her nails and looks uncomfortable when put on the spot which suggests it is anxiety related. She is absolutely fine at home - it's like it is a control/habit - way of dealing with her discomfort. Did you find some good strategies? I think no pressure, time and space was good advice. Has your boy grown out of it? Did you find a good way to deal with it. Thank you for any advice you can offer :-)

Jennifer - posted on 08/18/2011

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You are on the right track by not pressuring her. It is hard to tell whether they are being shy and/or apprehensive. Sometimes I know my son is just being plain stubborn and wants to do things his way. I can tell though when he is uncomfortable and I don't push. She just may need to take her time to get adjusted. Good luck to you!! :)

Jennifer - posted on 08/18/2011

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Hey Heather, My son was diagnosed with selective mutism which is basically he gets anxious around adults in social situations. He has gone to therapy which has helped. It took him about half the year to talk to his teacher. He played and talked to his classmates. They put him with a reading specialist which definitely helped. They had to adjust with the tests they give and would let him point to the answers. It has been a long process. He does still get quiet around people. It is getting better though. You have to be patient. I have found if I would answer for him, he would take advantage of that. Try one on one play dates. It took him awhile to be comfortable to play on a playground with alot of kids. Start small. Talk to your doctor again. I am still nervous for him going to 1st grade. They did not hold him back because they knew he understood the material. He says he is ready to go back to school. Hang in there and if you need anything else or have more questions, feel free to ask. I know for me having someone to talk to helped.

Heather - posted on 08/18/2011

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Hi Jennifer! I know your post is almost a year old now, but I'm facing the same situation with my daughter, and I was hoping to hear how your son wound up adjusting to kindergarten. My daughter has always been very comfortable around her peers, but when it comes to adults, even family, that aren't me, her father, or her child care provider, she won't speak to them. I'm trying to be very patient with her, but my husband is at the end of his rope. How is your situation now? I'd love to hear any advice you can offer. Thanks so much!

Jennifer - posted on 08/30/2010

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Deanna you are so right!!! I don't make a big issue about it and everyone else is and it makes me so upset. That is when I think something could be wrong. Thanks so much for the encouragement!!

[deleted account]

He will be fine. After a week or two I am not sure about that but he will be fine. just stick up for him to the school and the teachers. As long as he is learning and knows how to do the things taught he will be fine. There are thousands of kids out there that don't really talk that much or even at all. They do just fine and there are ways around it. Does he need to learn to get past it? yes. but don't make a big issue out of it.
good luck and god bless

Bonnie - posted on 08/29/2010

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I believe he'll be fine, always advocate for your son because you know him best! When u can volunteer in his class! Maybe if he sees u comfortable with his teacher he'll feel more comfortable. Good Luck!

Balethia - posted on 08/29/2010

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Jennifer, you are very welcome. I understand completely. My mother-in-law thinks that my kids are spoiled, which they are not, we just allow them to have their own personality and not try and force fit them into someone else's. Stand strong and support your child in ways that you see fit.

Jennifer - posted on 08/28/2010

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Thanks Balethia!! My problem is everyone else is telling me something is wrong with him. My mother-in-law (who he has not seen very often) took toys away from him because he would not talk to her! I was furious!! I am anxious to see who he gets for his teacher and I am giving him time to get adjusted!! Thanks.

Josephine - posted on 08/27/2010

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maybe it's because he can't read an adults mood?! And so he decides not to talk to them. Have the adults smile at him to let them know they're not upset with him and maybe just maybe he'll open up with adults.

Carol - posted on 08/27/2010

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Your welcome. A good website to learn more about it is selectivemustismcenter.org. There are links to a 20/20 video and an article in People magazine about selective mutism (SM). I will warn you that not everyone agrees with the condition. May adults link it to shyness and our own pediatrician told us that she would outgrow it. So, be prepared. Good luck and I would be be glad to help if you have any further questions.

Amanda - posted on 08/27/2010

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I agree with Carol. I feel there is some anxiety going on. However, my son who is now 6 was like that at first. He would NOT talk to anyone. He drove me crazy. He didn't start to talk till he reached the middle of the Kindergarten year... now he is becoming a bully, so we are working on that. He is a good kid, just got mixed up with the wrong kids.
I am sure your son will talk, but I would also maybe ask him how he feels when people are around. Why he doesn't want to talk. Maybe he will tell you what he is feeing then that would give you something to start working on. Good luck... hope all works out for you.

Jennifer - posted on 08/27/2010

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Thanks so much. I did look it up and it fits him especially the anxiety. He has his 5 year check up coming up and I will discuss it with her. You may be hearing from me!!! My 2 older children were never like this and I have been so overwhelmed with all of it and worrying about him!

Carol - posted on 08/27/2010

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When I searched this topic years ago, it immediately hit us. We knew that she had this condition just from reading about it on-line. My daughter is going into 2nd grade now and is doing wonderfully! We had to work with her a lot...from doing tons of play dates with peers and even meeting teachers/adults one on one. It's best to catch it early so you are on the right track. Let me know if you have questions, we have been through it all for the last 3 years!

Jennifer - posted on 08/27/2010

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Carol, that is so true about my son!! I can tell he is anxious. He didn't have a problem with the kids at preschool, just the adults. I will definitely look this up and check it out. Thanks so much. I am hoping your daughter is doing well!

Carol - posted on 08/27/2010

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I saw your posting and had to write. My daughter has a condition called selective mutism. It's a anxiety condition in which she can't speak in certain settings. We discovered this when she went to pre-school. She would not speak to most kids or adults. Your child is not being stubborn, but anxious! If you search the topic, you will find lots of information. The worst thing to do is force your child to speak or put any kind of pressure on him. As your child gets comfortable, he will speak. If not, you may need to seek further help or just learn more about the condition.

Debora - posted on 08/27/2010

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some kids need to help a specailist so you may want to try a speech threphist since they can reenforce stranger danger for you.hope this helps plus he will adjust i will be praying for him like i do for all kids as the new school yr starts since god knows they need him tp protect them today with so many nutty things from sex offenders to killings and drug dealing in schools .

Jennifer - posted on 08/26/2010

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THANK YOU Michelle! That is so encouraging. I have most people telling me his is just stubborn or something negative! I have appreciated all the encouragement from everyone!!!!

Jennifer - posted on 08/26/2010

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Thanks Suzanne! I requested a teacher that I know would be perfect for him, so I am hoping he gets her!

Michelle - posted on 08/26/2010

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I used to teach a young girl who would talk to me through one of her friends she did this for almost three years then all of a sudden she just started talking to me so don't worry to much he will adjust and your teachers will learn ways of communicating with him.

Jolayne - posted on 08/26/2010

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I just caught my son talking to a complete stranger not 5 minutes ago .

We've had the talks ,seen the videos but you would think that he would understand not to do this but NO !

I got into a situation where a guy had the nerve to dump 6 large garbage bags worth of junk at my back gate then come to my front door and ask to leave it there AFTER he dumped it there .

As it turns out our son spoke in great detail to this guy the previous week !

I feel so frustrated that when I caught him again I sent him straight to his room !

I have no idea what to do aside from scaring the crap out of him .



I wish to God himself that he didn't talk to adults.

Suzanne - posted on 08/26/2010

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give it a bit if he has the right teacher she will get him talking no problem kindergarden teachers are a special bunch and can work wonders

Jennifer - posted on 08/26/2010

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Yes, we have gone over the strangers and who is ok to talk to. Even in preschool it was just the kids he would talk to. If he knew an adult was watching he would stop talking! I just can't figure it out!!

Bridgette - posted on 08/26/2010

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Oh wow. Its a blessing and a curse. Perhaps a little help knowing which adults to talk to, like teachers which not to, strangers in a store that walk up to him?

Jennifer - posted on 08/26/2010

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Thanks Ashley! I hope he does open up to his teacher. I hope I am worrying for nothing!

Ashley - posted on 08/26/2010

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My daughter is like me and will talk to anyone...well sometimes I think we have on our heads talk to me...But I know a lady whoms middle daughter is alot like your son. She won't talk or she wants to hide...Mom's away and she opens up. Maybe after a few days check in with his teacher and see what he does when your away. It's like the sayin "When the cat's away the mice will play." :)

Jennifer - posted on 08/26/2010

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As much as we are on the go, you wouldn't think we would have this problem. My older children has been in sports, so we are always at some game or school function. Others tell me he is so smart and just being stubborn because we want him to talk. ;-)

Jolayne - posted on 08/26/2010

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I wish I had your problem my 5 yr old will talk to any adult he is wayyyyyyy to friendly

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