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How to help children who stop talking


There are children who suddenly they stop talking, One day to another. For no apparent reason. This disorder is known as selective mutism. It usually happens when the child wants to flee from a situation or people that generate stress or anxiety.

In the event that this happens, what can parents do to help you? Here you have some tips to help your child to speak again and lose all your fears. How can we help children who stop talking?

Boys and girls with selective mutism tend to show a high level of emotional suffering and they present important adaptation problems on a personal, academic and especially a social level. Therefore, it is important that we help them overcome it. Thus, we must:

1. Avoid overprotective attitudes: do not justify the child to others, do not express understanding or insist or pressure him to respond. Thus we only devote an excess of attention to the problem and reinforce the silence.

2. Avoid actions that may maintain the child's behavior: not taking gestural responses as valid, not giving him the possibility of responding in another non-verbal way, not allowing others to ask for things for him, etc.

3. Do not threaten him with negative consequences how to punish him, tell him that he is going to repeat a year ... Not compare with siblings, classmates or other children.

4. Teach the child appropriate ways to initiate and maintain verbal interactions with others: how to say hello, how to ask to play, how to approach ...

5. Planning social situations in which are present the people with whom the child usually talks and people with whom he does not, until he gradually talks to them.

6. Strengthen the child's circle of friends and expand it, also increasing the adult's control over the child's interactions with their peers to avoid being isolated.

7. Help you to progressively integrate with other people: for example, we can approach a group of other children with the child and play with them for a while until the child integrates and then, we gradually withdraw.

8. Help you loosen up by doing masked speech activities: play games in which you have to talk but without your face being seen such as puppets, marionettes, talking on the phone inside a house, talking games in the ear ...

9. Positively reinforce the child's verbal approaches towards other people (both children and adults): we congratulate you for doing it, we comment on the advantages of playing with other children and having friends ...

10. Seek professional help as soon as possible to avoid prolonging the problem and to carry out a full case evaluation and design the best treatment program for each child.

Aroa Caminero
Psychologist
Álava Reyes Psychology Center

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