20 answers

Extreme Anxiety - Please Help

Hi My son is almost 5 yrs old. He displayed none interactive behavior in his preschool. He spent most free play time in the classroom and recess time in the play ground by himself - walking back and forfth, talking to himself.
We had him tested, and the result was fine. He does not have any spectrum of autism. I spoke with his pedia dr. about his no-word, and not even wanting to play with other kids behavior, the dr. mentioned selective mutism.
I surfed online about SM, realized that my son's behavior might largely caused by his extreme anxiety, which is also the underline of SM. His anxieity is so extreme that made him nervous to talk to other kids and play with them. He has great fear that I could not explain. We took him to the zoo that he refused to see animals, saying " how do I know them would not hurt me". He only wants to stay home becasue he feels safe and comfortable. Playing ground, county fair, any other public places he refused to go becasue "it is not safe there". He is very muted in large group like in school.
I want to help hime to break through this layer of anxiety around him, if you have any advice, please help.
thank you

1 mom found this helpful

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Have you taken him to a psychiatrist/pshychologist? Could he possibly have Schizophrenia or some other disorder? I would definitely seek a second opinion if it were my child. Kudos to you for trying to help him through this.

I am so sorry you are going through this. I agree with the other posters that seeing a child psychologist with a specialization in phobias is probably the best option at this point in time. I think he could really benefit from it and, hopefully, make him slowly become more comfortable around others.

Good luck.


More Answers

Hi W.,
I remember hearing about SM recently and it totally described how I was in school 40 years ago. I wouldn't talk to anyone at school (until about 4th grade) but at home I was loud and with the neighborhood kids I was fine and by 5th grade I was over it. So I'm not sure that's what your son has. He seems to have some sort of phobia since he feels unsafe everywhere. I think the best thing is to have a psychologist speak to him and try to work him through his fears. Meanwhile try to figure out where he would have heard about things being unsafe. Did he hear the news on TV/Radio or over hear you talking to your husband or over hear other kids talking? Sometimes kids in school talk about things they don't really understand and it scares the other kids. This happened to my son in kindergarten and when I finally explained things to him correctly he felt better.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

The way parents can help kids "break through this layer of anxiety" is by taking them to an pediatric clinical psycholigst specializing in anxiety disorders. And don't stop appts once you see a bit of symptom relieft. Complete the treatment. Your local university would be a great place to start, followed by a children's hospital. Don't go to any "counselors" out there, you need a specialist that has a PhD and has worked with children for many years. The sooner the interventions, the better. Good luck, ALicia

1 mom found this helpful

Hey W., I have a 5 year old little boy as well....My first question would be, do you have anxiety? Kids pick everything up from their parents, I know i am constantly changing in order to create a successful child. the way i got my son to interact with children was for myself to be happy and interact with them and then he would come over and start playing too. I always introduce my new friend to my son and then they start playing. it eases the tension of not knowing the person. My son is very coutious! And now is becoming very outgoing. I beleive it is from my husbands friendliness towards people that he sees and my willingness to take the time and help him learn how to socialize and have fun. Show by example. maybee start playing with your son and his freinds to help them interact. And the key is in not telling your son what to do but in doing what you want your son to do, he will see how fun it is and then want to join in. This advice is how I've created my social butterfly. I hope this helps you, level 1 or restorative Yoga is great for anxiety. much love!

1 mom found this helpful

Dear W.
It sounds like you are having a difficult time. My recommendation would be to have the public schools test him. This testing is free if you have him enrolled in kindergarten. Many times Dr.'s often misdiagnose children as they see them for extremely limited time and it is difficult for a ped. or general practitioners to diagnose behavior problems when these must be observed for long time spans over a number of days. As a special ed. teacher, I have observed many children with the behaviors your son is displaying. Getting involved with a life style and school designed to address his specific behaviors will benefit your son greatly.
Good luck,

Oy oy oy oy oy.

It's really sad that the pre-school people didn't work
with you and your son earlier on this situation.

Did he participate at all during pre-school?
Story time? Sharing toys?

Has he been exposed to scary stuff on TV since an early age? News? Fast-edited adventure programs?

Do you have a university near you?
If there's a psychology department, you might want to inquire about a professor or grad student working with your child individually. There are various kinds of "play therapy" to help young children with problems like this one.

The testing people and your pediatrican --
did any of them have any suggestions or recommendations?

feeling a lot of concern about your son's anxieties

as the other respondent said, it sounds to me like a phobia... and as such, it often causes deep "anxiety."

I would highly recommend a child therapist, or someone who specializes in this, regarding children.
I don't think a lay-person, without professional training, could effectively help, fully.

I am assuming your son has always been this way? If not, did he suffer any kind of "trauma" or anything that would affect him emotionally, this way? Sometimes, individuals have selective mutism if they suffered something that they can't cope with.

I'm sure he will be fine, with proper therapy, and loving supportive parents like you obviously are. :)

All the best,

My son is 4, and is currently in a speech class. He too doesn't talk to the other kids in the class. He only wants to play by himself. I went to the school counselor and asked her to observe him. after about three weeks of her professional observation, she had me sign forms for him to undergo an official evaluation.
His pediatrician told us that he is sure he does not have autism, but there are other types of disorders that include these symptoms. I would recommend having him evaluated again. As a parent, you have the right to ask for an evaluation at any time.

Have you taken him to a psychiatrist/pshychologist? Could he possibly have Schizophrenia or some other disorder? I would definitely seek a second opinion if it were my child. Kudos to you for trying to help him through this.

I am so sorry you are going through this. I agree with the other posters that seeing a child psychologist with a specialization in phobias is probably the best option at this point in time. I think he could really benefit from it and, hopefully, make him slowly become more comfortable around others.

Good luck.


Find a good child psychologist to help you. Then if deemed necessary try anti-anxiety meds.

Hi W.:
Responding,is A little difficult when nothing is mentioned of your marriage status,or whether the boy has a father figure in his life.This can make A difference in his ability to feel (more secure) in his surroundings. I agree with the poster,who felt the preschool failed to assist in helping him interact with other children.When they noticed his extreme shyness,his unwillingness to mingle,they should have stepped in.They could have eased him into participation.You mentioned,that he refuses to go to places such as play grounds,public places. In A sense,your enabling him to continue to be anti social.Your solidifying his fears,by permitting him to make the choice to stay home. It's almost like saying to him,(your right) "It isn't safe out there" "So we won't go" He trusts you,and its going to take you to show him,that his fears,are unfounded.Show him how to interact.If you take him to the park,you come across friendly to others.If you take him to A fair,you need to open up in front of him,and bring out the (child in you) Show him,that you feel the freedom to enjoy your surroundings,so he feels that same freedom himself.Without fear. It doesn't sound like hes spent a lot of time with other children.Kids have to learn how to mingle,and get along socially. If he has spent most of his time with you,he will lean toward being protective of you,and to prove his loyalty to you,can be antisocial.I'd encourage him to interact, I would not permit him the option of sitting at home,and I'd get him involved in A sport,where he'll realize there was nothing to fear,but having fun.He'll not only be able to experience the freedom of being himself but the comradely,and confidence of being part of A team working together to achieve a common goal. I wish you and your son the very best. J. M

Hi W.,

I highly suggest you go to www.emofree.com and check out the entire site. There is a free video you can watch that describes E.F.T. (Emotional Freedom Technique). As E.F.T. is new and challenges conventional beliefs, you should consult your doctor or qualified health practitioner regarding your use of E.F.T.

I use E.F.T. on myself and my daughter. It has absolutely worked for us. I hope this helps.

Take care,

K. C.

Hi W.,
I can gear how much you want to help your son through this difficult time. I work with children with special needs and can recommend therapists that work with children with selective mutism. I know of a wonderful clinician in the Los Angeles area who specializes in this.
Feel free to contact me directly at ____@____.com anytime.
Best wishes,

W.: Did you give your son B-complex vitamins? Does he take children's vitamins? How is his diet? Does he have a balanced diet? B vitamin is the food for neurologic system. B-12 helps people to relieve stress and anxiety. I would start with some vitamins. You can check out the following link to get some information for children's vitamins. Hope this will help.


I agree with Amanda. He needs to see a psychiatrist who is an MD that specializes in children's disorders. Some mental problems are caused by chemical problems in the brain and can be helped by certain medications. Sometimes these disorders are inherited. Do you have other family members that suffer from anxiety, depression, bipolar, etc? A medical genealogy might help you determine if this is a factor in his problem. Also certain procedures like MRI's can pinpoint brain activity to see if his brain functions normally. This is one method that autism can be diagnosed. I wish you the best for you. As an adult suffering from both depression and anxiety, I can understand his suffering, but at his age he has few coping mechanisms and needs adults to help him. Best of luck.

My daughter has anxiety as well. She is 10. The best thing for your child and mine is counseling. It will be for his best interest to take him to counseling. My daughter will be starting soon. Good luck!


I volunteer for a non-profit, National Alliance on Mental Illness. Don't be frightened - they cover all issues with the brain and if it truly is anxiety, which you can't know until yu have him evaluated by a PhD in child psychiatry. You can also go to: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=child_and_teen_s...

They have a child section where you can get more information. There are several good affiliates in So CA.

I had a child who exhibited similar behavior. We had him evaluated by the local school district, the school made changes, we took him to a psychotherapist, and made changes in our home. He is in 8th grade now and doing great.

Good luck.
- A.

I am sure there is a child sycoligest in your vinicity that you could take him. Good luck A. no, hills

Sounds like he had phobias... seek a therapist who deals with children and phobias.


I have a 4 year old daughter with SM (she was diagnosed about 6 months ago).

There are resources - including through the school where it is most critical.

Contact me off-list at ____@____.com if you would like to chat.


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