Parents Guide: How to Help a Child with Selective Mutism
Learning to Deal With Anxiety
It’s important that everyone in a child’s life be involved with treatment because SM is a disorder that other people tend to adapt to, which can actually make it harder to treat. For example, if you know that your child gets anxious when ordering at a restaurant, you might automatically answer for her when the waiter asks what she’d like to eat. While your intention is to lessen her anxiety, this pattern of “rescuing” only reinforces the likelihood that she will continue being quiet around waiters.
Instead of “rescuing” kids from their anxiety, parents and caregivers can help them learn to cope as part of their treatment program. Your child’s clinician should provide good strategies and advice for doing this. While her anxiety may not diminish completely, her ability to tolerate her distress will increase.