Selective mutism in children: causes, symptoms and treatment

Selective mutism in children: causes, symptoms and treatment

Selective mutism in children: causes, symptoms and treatment

There is a disorder that affects school-age children and is more common than you think. It is selective mutism, which generates anxiety and is characterized by the persistent inability to speak in different specific situations. Simply put, selective mutism is remaining 'mute' in the face of a specific social situation.

If your child has suffered from this at some point, keep reading as we tell you what it is and how to deal with it.

What is selective mutism?

As mentioned, selective mutism is a childhood grief anxiety disorder in which a child feels unable to speak in some situations, especially in settings such as school or places where there are many people. That is, the boy or girl can talk when he or she is with his or her family, but if he or she is taken out of that comfort zone, he or she may appear anxious and stressed and it may happen that not a single word comes out. This can be due to several reasons.

Causes of selective mutism in children

The exact causes of selective mutism in children are not completely determined, however, it is believed that it may be due to a combination of genetic, environmental and also biological factors. We explain it to you below:

Genetic predisposition

There is evidence that selective mutism may have a genetic component, with cases in which several members of a family experience the disorder, that is, if there have been cases of selective mutism in your family, it is likely that one of your children could inherit it. .

Environmental factors

Stressful or traumatic experiences, such as changes in the child's life, family conflicts, or school problems, can trigger or exacerbate selective mutism. Unfortunately, episodes such as buying and overexposure of minors on social networks can contribute to the appearance of selective mutism.

This is when the little ones feel that something is out of control, when they see that others have a distorted image of them or when they socialize little and are reprimanded, they have to do it.

Shy or inhibited temperament

Some children may have an innate predisposition to shyness or introversion, making them more susceptible to selective mutism in social situations. This is also reinforced when they are forced to speak in public and do not receive attention, or when on the contrary they are forced and receive ridicule or bad comments.

Symptoms of selective mutism in children

You must keep in mind that the symptoms of selective mutism can vary in intensity and can present in different ways, these are the most common, take note:

Persistent inability to speak in certain social situations

Children with selective mutism may be able to speak at home or with people close to them, but they refuse to speak at school, with strangers, or in social situations, the words do not come out, and they become intimidated when they see other people looking at them or paying attention to them. listen.

Extreme anxiety in social situations

Children with selective mutism may experience intense anxiety, tremors, sweating, or heart palpitations when faced with situations in which they are expected to speak. They may even lose their voice when they try to speak. These are all temporary symptoms and can be treated with proper care.

Avoidance of social interactions

Children with selective mutism may actively avoid social situations in which they are expected to speak, such as participating in group games, answering questions in class, or interacting with new peers.

These types of children always try to be with people they trust and they are the ones they interact with, such as their parents, siblings or a teacher.

How is selective mutism diagnosed?

It is important that this is determined by a professional, since the diagnosis of selective mutism is made after an exhaustive review of the child's medical history and behavior. It is not something that can be determined right away, as it can be confused with other conditions related to the condition. lack of speech

Treatment of childhood selective mutism

Selective mutism can be treated, it is not a condition a child must always live with. These are the most recurrent treatments:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

This therapeutic approach focuses on helping the child identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs related to social anxiety, to then be able to manage that emotion.

Gradual exposure therapy

This requires exposing the child in a gradual and controlled manner to social situations that cause anxiety, with the aim of reducing their fear and increasing their ability to speak, all little by little and under supervision.

Family therapy

Family therapy can help address family and environmental factors that may be contributing to a child's selective mutism, and can provide support and guidance to parents to help manage the disorder so they can encourage their child to speak without fear. in any circumstance.

Games to overcome selective mutism

Some fun board games for kids can help children with mutism feel more comfortable, so that little by little they leave behind the fear of speaking in certain circumstances. Here are some of them:

Role playing games

Role-playing games for children are a good way to help children with selective mutism practice social situations in a safe and fun way. You can create game scenarios where the child has to interact with other characters or play specific roles. This allows them to practice communication skills. A good strategy is to have them play different roles through disguise, you could use  kids wall clocks  and kids' sunglasses of Kiddus 

pink sunglasses for little girls

Imitation Games

Imitation games are another option to promote communication in children with selective mutism. You can play games where the child imitates animal sounds, actions or simple words. This can help them feel more comfortable.

Conversation card games

Creating conversation cards with fun questions can be a fun way to encourage your child to participate in conversations. Remember to adjust it according to their age.

The invisible child

Put glasses on the child and make him believe that when he wears them no one sees him, so he can speak more safely, try to establish a topic of conversation with which he feels comfortable in front of other children or other people. You can get super comfortable and beautiful glasses at Kiddus, they also fit perfectly to the child's face for greater comfort.

Tips for Helping a Child with Selective Mutism

If your child or a child you know has selective mutism, you can rely on the following tips:

Provides a supportive environment

Do not blame him, create an environment of security and acceptance for the child. Don't criticize or mock him when he tries to talk, on the contrary, encourage him and highlight every progress or achievement, no matter how small.

Set goals

Set real goals that are achievable for the child and communicate them to him, let him know that he can achieve it and that his efforts to communicate correctly will be worth it.

Seek support

A professional, whether a speech therapist or psychologist, is always a good support. Remember that they have the necessary experience for the boy or girl to overcome selective mutism definitively.


Although selective mutism is often a challenge, with the right support and professional experience to guide you, it can be overcome quickly and without much difficulty. Do not be discouraged, on the contrary, show your boy or girl how to acquire greater confidence and self-respect, so that they can speak anywhere without any blockage or fear.

Author: Kiddus Team

At Kiddus we take pride in creating high-quality accessories for kids that are both functional and fashionable. Our team is composed of professionals in the children's industry, including designers, engineers, and child development experts. We work together to create innovative and safe products that meet the needs of both children and parents. With years of experience and a passion for quality, we strive to exceed expectations and bring joy to families around the world.

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