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Do I Need To Worry About My Child's Painful Shyness?

Sending your little one off to school is a big moment for any parent. But what if your child is very quiet, or painfully shy around strangers? This was the questioned asked by one of our moms recently; and the replies from our community gave some really useful suggestions. We hope you too will find them interesting, and useful:

“Hi moms, I have a four-year-old boy who is starting school this September. I'm worried about him being bullied and left out. When he is home or in my mother’s house he is his fun playful self and cannot shut him up. But EVERYWHERE else he will not talk at all!!!

He loved play school and while he played with the other kids he did not speak to them. His teacher couldn't even get him to talk to her when it was one-to-one time. Will he grow out of this? Is it normal? He doesn't speak around cousins either. Should I worry? Thanks."

Take Your Time

Aoife: If it was me I would have kept my child another year in play school. I don’t think he’d get picked on for being quiet, but sometimes my girl who’s 6 is quiet around strangers, and she comes across as rude.

Deirdre: Keep him an extra year in play school. My friend's daughter is the same … won't shut up at home but won't talk in play school or anywhere else. Her teachers advised to keep her there the extra year. Some kids just need that extra year for confidence building.

Clare: We were all set to send our middle dd at 4yrs 5months she's April but as the months up to Sept passed we knew she socially wasn't ready for the transition into big school. Academically she would have been, but that's not enough. She's 8 now, and it has made her. You will never regret sending them later, but you may regret sending them early.

Denise: He’s only 4, so maybe another year in play school: That's speaking from sending one child at 4 and my last one at 5 … the difference to me was huge. Even in secondary school it stands to them to be the extra year older.

Get Back-up

Tina: I've had experience of this. Write a note, or say to the teacher about him; and ask if whoever's on yard duty can make sure he's not left on his own.

Jenny: I'd let the teacher know how painfully shy he is & she will be conscious about pairing him up etc. and try to organise as many play dates as possible. Our school used to move them every 2 weeks so they got to sit with different children, and also has a ‘buddy bench’ so if you've no one to play with, you sit on the bench & other children are encouraged & praised for asking that person to play with them. It's a lovely idea: I'd ask is there anything like that in place.

Ask The Experts

Dee: Would definitely recommend referral to speech and language therapy. Better to have him in the system just in case. It may be selective mutism or a milder form known as being a ‘reluctant speaker’. Sometimes a few tips from an SLT can make a big difference. Depending where you live the wait-list may not be that long if you choose to go publicly.

Claire: Sounds to me like it could be selective mutism, I would definitely look into it! But most kids grow out of it themselves!

Eliza: … Ask your GP for a referral to a speech therapist as a precaution: Sometimes they just need a little helping hand. It’s not unusual, and you are not alone. Don’t worry, trust your instincts: You know your son best; and you could also ask the pre-school teacher what they think too.

Michelle: Sounds like selective mutism. Two of my brothers have kids with it and I have a child with autism … Better to check it to rule it out, than wait and see. I waited to see and regret it. If all is ok, no harm done, but if all is not ok, then early intervention is key.

Keep Calm & Carry On

Mary: He is fine just a shy boy, he is only 4. My little man is 6 now, going on 7 and exactly same: Never shuts up around us all in family, but outside and with cousins, not a word! It was like that right up until recently; even teachers in school always say he is very shy and quiet, but they try help him in yard by encouraging to play with kids. He will grow out of it, I promise. Don't be worrying, take care.

Claire: ALL that matters is if he's happy. Some kids are more reserved and are happy with that.

Lisa: If he talks to you, ask him the reason he doesn't feel comfortable talking to others. Also, use little figures to play with him and get them interacting with each other through a game.

Suzi: Let’s not judge this mum for sending her boy to school at 4. Sounds like the child will be quiet whether in big school or play school. Must say my first little girl came out of her shell completely in big school, and let go of lots of her anxieties … Junior Infants is very play based learning with a structure that my eldest thrived on. It's up to each parent to choose what's best for their children.

Read Next: How To Nurture Your Children's Mental Health

What age did your child start school? And do you have any little ones who don't talk outside the home? We'd love to hear your thoughts and advice.


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