My Child Won't Talk at School - Selective Mutism

18 replies, Page 1

 Former member 2013-08-21 21:10:30


My daughter is 2.9 years old. She has started nursery/playgroup from this year. She does not talk to ANYONE in school. [Don’t talk to the teacher, other kids, care takers in school (called Mavashis). She also doesn’t talk to her Auto Driver (called kaka) or any other kids in her auto.]

When she is at home, she talks a lot, sings, and is very talented in everything. In short she is loud and talkative at home just like other kids. She also talks a lot with our relatives.

Her teacher and school principal called us last week and told that they have NOT yet heard her voice in school. i.e from start of school, last more than two months.
I was googling on net and have come to conclusion (after reading lot of information on net) that it’s selective mutism. (I have not yet consulted any specialist, planning to do it in next few days to take their opinion. School has also suggested the same)

1. Has any parent faced Selective Mutism with their kids?
2. Does anyone know any ‘Selective Mutism’ specialist in Pune (social anxiety disorder expert)
3. Has anyone faced similar problem with their kids? If yes, what solutions you tried?

I know that there is very less awareness about Selective Mutism  in world and especially in India. However Any information you can provide me would be greatly appreciated.".

Neethi 2013-08-21 21:41:36



I feel it will not be fair to jump to any conclusion...She is too small..pls give her some time..U have mentioned that she is talkitive at home...take her teachers assistance...ask her to involve the child with other kids in an affectionate way...Such kids require assurance..and help..

Selective mutism is a big term and I dont think it will be fair to tag her that way...Dont google for anything much bcos internet is big source of anxiety in parents...I think she needs some time and lots of encouragement in a positive way........Since u have mentioned that she cummunicates at home and also with ur relatives,I think she is perfectly fine..........the teacher and the moushi available at school will be able to help u out.............


sachpreet 2013-08-21 22:51:08


 My child is 6.4 years old.Still he doesn't talk with teachers.Every teacher says he don't talk & remain quite.This statement now don't make me now much worried.I'm working on his strong points.I'm trying to make him communicative for his needs.From the age of around 3 years i'm putting efforts to improve his personality.First of all you should accept if she is quite in nature.2.9 years is very small age to arrive on any conclusion.Everything is new for her,give her time.This happened with us also.Some of us make friends very fast.Some take time to make friends.I'm sure your daughter will be good observer.


mizzs 2013-08-22 10:01:23



It is a good idea to monitor your child's social behavior. I will caution you though-your child is quite young-too young to go in for a complicated diagnosis like selective mutism.

Some questions:

Have you talked to the teacher about her routine and how they help her cope with anxiety?

 The first step is always to modify the environment...what does the teacher do to help her transition into the class?

Does the teacher greet her as soon as she enters class?

Does she play with other children even if she doesn't talk to them?

Does she relate to one other student at least?

Does she take a familiar toy/book or any other object to school?

How do you prepare her for the school day? Do you talk about school and discuss at least one activity that she may engage in at school?

When you discuss her school day how does she respond? Does she sound enthusiastic or does she sound nervous?

When she goes to school, is there a familiar and slightly older child who rides in the same auto?

I will add the suggestions after I hear back:)



 Former member 2013-08-23 02:19:51


Thanks Neethi,sachpreet and mizzs.

I fully agree with you that she is too small. We need to give her some time. I understand it and fully agree with you.

After getting some information on net I met school principal (after 2 days of our first meeting) and requested her to help us to apply few simple techniques in school with the help of her teacher, few kids in her class and Mavshi. School is ready to help usbut they asked us to FIRST visit doctor and then school will help us as suggested/guided by doctor ONLY. So finally I requested principal to give us some time to try few techniques at home. Principal agreed to wait for 2 weeks. But she said, if there is no improvement in next 2 weeks then we must visit doctor and give them report/feedback/opinion of doctor.

So currently we are applying few techniques at home and outside (going slowly and playful way…don’t want apply too much in short time and overburden her). Also we take her to one of her classmate’s home and let them to play together. She plays with her but not yet started talking with her.

mizzs, I am monitoring her social behaviour. My few observations are, Sometimes when new persons are around us (and especially in school) then she stops talking to us (me/her mom) also. But she starts talking/laughing…and all that normal fun with us as soon as we go away from them. And she avoids eye contact with her teacher and new persons.

Please see below answers to your questions and let me know if you have any suggestion.

1. Have you talked to the teacher about her routine and how they help her cope with anxiety? – So far her teacher has told us that she remains silent all the time, no expression, no whispering, no nodding…etc.

2. Does she relate to one other student at least? –Teacher said no.

3. Does she take a familiar toy/book or any other object to school? – All her books are kept in school only (except weekends). She only carries tiffin box, water bottle and small hand book.

4. How do you prepare her for the school day? Do you talk about school and discuss at least one activity that she may engage in at school? - She very happily gets ready to go to school…no complains…in fact, most of the days she waits for her auto to come and pick her. She eats her tiffin in school. Whatever songs, dance…etc is taught in school she keeps singing/dancing most of the time at home. If there is any notice given in her hand book then she herself opens handbook and shows it to us without fail.

5. When you discuss her school day how does she respond? Does she sound enthusiastic or does she sound nervous? -- If we specifically ask her anything about school day, teacher, friends …etc then she changes her expression and doesn’t talk much about it…yes, she sound bit nervous.

6. When she goes to school, is there a familiar and slightly older child who rides in the same auto? – All of them are new to each other. One of them is in her class. As I have mentioned above now days we go to her home and allow them to play together so that at least both of them will become familiar. And yes, there are two slightly older child are in same auto.

I will try to get answers of your remaining questions whenever I will meet her teacher.


rad1234 2013-08-30 14:52:08



Your daughter is very young. Shez still a baby. However you are taking all the necessary steps to help her. Thats great. Just a suggestion, why not take her to a professional ?

It might help if you take her to CGC ( child guidance center) at deccan - Prabhat Road. They might be able to provide useful insights.

Good luck


mizzs 2013-08-30 17:12:12


aaah..sorry I wrote my reply but never posted:( Things got a bit hectic. It is a bit looooong. hope it isn't too confusing:)

Here are some suggestions...

The key to making any child comfortable with transitioning to school is to make the home school connection stronger. This is even more important for a child with any level of social anxiety. 

Talk to the teacher before hand so she understands what it is that you are trying to establish and responds accordingly in the following measures. Most children start identifying with the classroom as days go by. Your daughter needs that extra push to understand that she too is part of that community. This push has to come from the teacher (as she is the adult in charge) but you can give your child certain props to facilitate the connection.


  1. Spend a few minutes with your daughter in the morning—picking up a flower, a leaf, or a stone. Explore the shape, color, or inherent designs. She can even make a small ‘card’—she should draw something in the front.  Ask her to tell you one thing she wants to share with her teacher that day. You can write that on the back of the card. Let her know that she has something she can share with her teacher-state explicitly that she should give it to her teacher once she enters the classroom. The teacher on her part should say something in response…”Oh this is for me? Thank you so much. This leaf is so smooth…” or she should read aloud the message on the card and respond accordingly. It doesn’t take more than a minute or two...but it is one way to cue your daughter about home-school interactions. It is alright for your daughter not to say anything…it is the teacher’s response which is important.
  2. In the evening when you sit down with your daughter, identify one activity where she can contribute to the discussion. Help her come up with a sentence appropriate for that activity. Now the three of you (Dad, mom, and Daughter) pretend to play ‘school.’ One parent is the teacher while the other two are kids. Let the ‘teacher’ say a related dialogue. Then the other parent responds (as a student). Next your daughter has to say her sentence. The following morning, remind her that she knows what to say in class—you state it for her. Write the sentence in your parent teacher communication book-this will give a head up to the teacher when to stop and ask, “XYZ, do you have something to say?” She should give her a a few minutes wait time. If your daughter responds, great. If she doesn’t that’s ok…it will take a few weeks to get to that stage.
  3. The teacher should wait at the entrance and greet her when your little girl enters the classroom. She can make a small badge which says ‘teacher’s helper’, maybe draw a few flowers or cartoons—anything lively. When your daughter enters the classroom, the teacher should give her the badge and say, “XYZ, I am so happy to see you. I have some jobs which need to be done and I hope you can be my helper. Will you come with me and do…?” A child that young needs to be told that she is part of the community, and her contribution is important. It is obvious to us but not to her. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate…just a small job like taking the books from one end of the room to another. Kids love to be helpers. This is also a great time to pair her up with a peer…even if she doesn’t talk, being a ‘teacher helper’ brings social recognition. It is a good way to break the barrier for other children to initiate interactions with her. Your daughter doesn’t know how to initiate…therefore peers initiating interactions is important.
  4. Talk to the teacher and find out which child is the kindest and most socially advanced-good peer interaction, wait for turns, listens to what others have to say or has the ability to expand on play schemes by accepting others’ contribution. There is always one in every class. Set play dates with this child—you can meet at the park, invite the parent home, or meet at your child’s favorite ice cream shop...even a short time spent together with this child will give your daughter something to share at school. Children who hang out together usually have lots to say to one another in school. You can prompt her before she goes to school… “You can tell your friends that you and ABC played on the swing…” Your sentence should give the exact information because that will prompt another child in the classroom to ask questions-thereby facilitating a conversation.


have more to add but will wait to hear if this makes sense to you...




mp07 2013-08-31 12:40:17



I will second rad1234, get a professional help. 

you can see Dr archana kadam . 


 Former member 2013-09-02 00:09:26


Thank you so much mizzs. These are really very good suggestions. I will definitely try these.

We met her teacher on Friday. Her teacher told us that she spoke in school two times.

1. Once she said “My I come in?” to her teacher (which we tell/teach her at home in friendly and playful manner).
2. And once she spoke with Mavshi in our mother tongue.

Teacher also told us that now days she opens up her mouth and try speak (very very slow voice which they cannot hear)

About the answers of your remaining questions-
Does the teacher greet her as soon as she enters class? – Teacher asks her to wait near door and say “May I come in …?” before entering in class. (Waits for some time, 1-2 mins for her to say something) …if no words ….then she takes her in the class. She does same for other kids as well.

Does she play with other children even if she doesn't talk to them? – No.

I will continue whatever techniques I am trying at home and will also add your suggestions.

Thanks once again for your excellent suggestions. And please add more suggestions. Your suggestions are very detail, practical and they really make sense.


mizzs 2013-09-02 12:41:51



You are welcome.

I had another question…do you think the hesitation to participate could be due to language issues?

Glad to know that your daughter has started to interact in class. It sounds like the teacher is able to adapt to her needs. May I make a suggestion?

  1. When it is your daughter’s turn, perhaps a peer could ask the question first? Shy children hate being put on the spot and if there is another child who models the behavior, it becomes just a matter of imitating (which is easier than initiating). Of course, it possible that her teacher already does this!
  2. Ask the teacher if she can spend a few minutes with ur little girl at the end of the school day. She can say something like, “XYZ, you did …so well. You seemed to really enjoy it. Tomorrow I am planning to do…this in class. Will you help me by …in class tomorrow?” Identifying one activity which she enjoyed in school (on the same day helps with memory) works on self realization at her age level. She will look forward to that activity on the following days. Greater familiarity reduces fear of risk/failing. Identifying a ‘helper job’ gives her something to look forward to-esply when the teacher initiates it.
  3. One strategy I used in class was to have a small ‘worksheet’ at the class entrance. I made a page which said I will play with ABC and put it in the worksheet folder. The shy child came in, picked out the folder and saw who the play mate was (I had a photo of the peer). The two played together for the first 5 minutes (until all the other kids had come in). Initially the shy kid didn’t really interact-just sat near the other kid, or did chores side by side (with teacher’s prompts). At this time, the teacher shouldn’t say “Talk, or say this or that”’s just a comfort building activity. The peer usually ends up initiating conversations and that works much better than having the teacher prompt at every step. The teacher can change the names of the kids each day to widen your daughter’s social circle. If attaching a photograph isn’t feasible then she can write the name and read it out to your daughter. I know some who just give verbal directions but having a visual prop helps establish a routine (essential for such a young child).
  4. Make a Papa/Mama goes to office and I go to School book. Take a few sheets of plain paper, staple them together in the middle to create a book. Write the title on the front page. Both of you can draw one small picture about your office/school. (don’t worry if her drawing isn’t representational to you-it will be for her). Write both your names-as co authors. Turn over to the first page spread-Write Papa (or Mama) goes to office on the left hand side…and you draw a pic of you going to office-your brief case, your mode of transportation, etc. On the right it should say I go to School. She can draw her auto, her book bag and her school building-whatever she wants. Turn the page and write on the left page-Papa says hello to his friend. Draw pic. Same thing on her side. Turn the page over and Write Papa work on his computer (or whatever it is that you work on). On her side, write I play with my friends. You can be more specific and add the actual activity-paint/read books, swing…

You can keep adding pages with very specific details-always relate what you do at work with what she does at school-it gives her a context.


  1. If you do take her to a psychiatrist, make sure it is someone with extensive experience and constantly updates their qualifications through continuing educational credits. Selective Mutism is a complicated diagnosis and it shouldn’t be handed out without a period of observation or data collection. It will be good if they refer you to a play therapist. Give them a description of the behaviors but don’t state any diagnosis-even if the school mentioned something. Teachers can’t and shouldn’t diagnose. They can only identify behaviors which concern them. All children have some degree of social anxiety-especially at that age. Social anxieties have to be addressed in context and teachers have a big role in the intervention. It is the environment which has to be modified to suit her needs. She is too young for pull out therapy or medication.


Good luck.


 Former member 2013-09-03 09:31:07


Thank you mizzs.

I do not think the hesitation to participate is because of language issues.
1. She understands most the thinks we talk with her in English at home.
2. Mavshis in her school talk with her in our mother tongue (most of the time).
So I do not think it’s because of language issue.

Your new suggestions are also very good. I have planned to visit her school tomorrow. I will discuss all these points with her teacher and request her for additional help to implement these suggestions.

I agree with your last point. School has suggested us one hospital in Pune city which has separate department for Child Development and other issues of children.  School wants us to visit that hospital and submit their report. School Principal was not ready to meet us without report from that hospital. As mentioned earlier, school is ready to help us but they first want opinion/report of specialist.  So I am going to visit that hospital on Friday.  I will keep you guys updated.

mizzs, thank you once again for your suggestion.


 Former member 2013-09-09 22:00:12


We visited hospital on Friday. Doctor took couple of tests of our daughter (in short, doctor asked her to do certain activities/task and checked if she can understand instructions, is she able to do given activity and is she able to it within certain time, her observation ability  …etc.) Our daughter didn't speak much with doctor but she completed almost all activities very well. She also completed few activities which doctor usually gives to kids older than her (3-5 years)  Doctor will give us final report by end of this week. Hopefully by Thursday. Overall, (from my understanding point of view) everything was quite +ve. Waiting for final report/opinion of expert.


DiptiPorwal 2013-09-20 15:48:13


 Hello DBM,

My daughter is 3 years and 2 months old, I had a parent teacher meeting at her school  yesterday and I got quite similar kind of feedback as you have described for your daughter. As such they have not made any issue out of the same but I want to address this before it becomes really big. I went through the complete thread and I am curious to know, what is the outcome of your final report? I hope its all positive and is your daughter showing more progress at school? Please let me know.

Best Regards and all the best!!





Samd7 2013-09-28 00:37:58


 Dear DBM,

My son also faced the same issue when he was in Playgroup (now he is 8 years old). Infact he went crying to school for almost the entire year. He would sit in a corner in his class and not intereact with anyone. However the teacher and the staff played a very crucial role. I remember the mavshi or the teacher would make him sit in their lap for the entire duration of the class to make him comfortable and involved. Eventually he started interacting with one or 2 children and would only want to be with them and did not like to be in a group setting. But he always completed his activities and was one of the brightest child

He was so till class LKG. Then when he went to STD 1st I started gettting complaints from the teacher that he keeps talking in the class continuously and is very talkative. I was actually very happy to get this complaint :). I keep getting this even now. Today he has loads of friends and a very happy child. 

But then again if is he is in a new setting among new people he takes a long time to adjust and wont speak. 

Every child is different. Some children are shy and take time to adjust. I am sure the same is the case with you. Give her some time, she will he fine.

May be the teacher is putting your daughter in the spot (by saying say MAY I COME IN before entering). Right from the time of entering the stress is built up, which for a shy child can be very difficult. I suggest try changing the school and put her in a school which is more child friendly and wherein teachers and staff are more friendly and approachable. I was lucky to get such a playschool for my child.

All the best. I hope the results from the doctors have been favourable but at the same time make sure you do not make your child to go through some unnecessary therapies and treatment. Go with your instinct!



 Former member 2013-09-29 23:23:43


Sorry for the delay guys. 

In final report doctor has mentioned that her IQ category is “Bright Intelligence†(above Normal Intelligence) and there is no other issue. In recommendations she has suggested counselling to us (parents) and also has suggested school to give special attention at our daughter.  

We showed final report to school principal. She asked us to visit school appointed psychologists who takes care of guiding their teachers and parents to handle such issues. Principal’s approach was quite +ve and she was willing to help to resolve problem as soon as possible.

We then took appointment of school’s own psychologists and meet her. She asked few questions to us. We answered all questions honestly. She said everything looks ok to her from parents point of view (as she talks well at home, with relatives, others in our society and report is also very +ve). She told us that she will guide our daughter’s class teacher. As problem exists mainly in school environment so counselling to her teachers is required. 

She told us, as of now no action is required from us (parents). She will do counselling to teacher and then we will see outcome after about one month.  

My wife is going to visit school tomorrow. She will try to get few latest updates.

Meanwhile her auto driver (kaka) told us one good news: our daughter has started talking in auto.

To conclude, everything is going so good so far. I am sure within few days/months I will get complaint like Samd7…. teachers will say that she keeps talking in the class continuously and is very talkative. :) Waiting for it :) 

Sorry for the delay. And thanks you guys for your support. I really like suggestions of mizzs.  

I will keep you updated.  


mizzs 2013-09-30 10:21:31


That is good news indeed:) Kudos to you for taking the school's comment in the right spirit-as a means of helping your child rather than getting defensive or offended? unless there are glaring deficits it is best to start with the least intrusive methods first.

 Former member 2013-09-30 16:49:50


Thanks mizzs.

Today class teacher told my wife that our daughter has started talking in school/class little bit. Really good news !!! She will improve slowly.



Parenting101 2022-11-06 15:17:17


Any update on this? Our daughter who is 4 year old is also showing similar behavior traits.

we had a parent teacher conference and the teachers expressed that our daughter hasn€™t said anything in class since they started two months back. 
They said maybe we should seek a counselor specializing in selective mutism after we informed that she talks to us very openly. She€™s a chatterbox at home. She talks to her cousins (who are few years older to her). 

however, with ANYONE else she doesn€™t talk. Not even her grandparents.

in school, it€™s becoming an issue because she won€™t even speak when she has to go to bathroom or when she€™s hungry or thirsty. When we found that out, we showed her how to signal to her teachers she has to go to the bathroom. She has been doing that and is communicating that.

she does talk some kids in the class at times, but mostly she€™s quiet.

please advise.


Parenting101 2022-11-06 15:21:28


Any advise would be appreciated 


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