Overly Shy Children

Updated on March 02, 2010
J.O. asks from Blanchard, MI
5 answers

I have a 6 yr old son in full day kindergarten and a 4 yr old daughter in half day preschool. My son was very shy in preschool and into kindergarten, he is now in his second year of kindergarten with the same teacher and is starting to come out of his shell. My daughter on the other hand who has always been a much more outgoing child has not spoken in class or to her teachers yet this year and she started preschool in September. The aide gave me some information on Selective Mutism as she feels this may be what is going on with my daughter but the regular preschool teacher seems to think she is just stubborn. My child is not a stubborn kid, she is very cooperative and is very well behaved especially in school, she just won't talk. Does anyone have any experience with this and what do you do for it? Both of my kids have said the preschool teacher is mean so I guess I figured she was just scared of getting in trouble. Any comments would be welcome.

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answers from St. Louis on

Hello J.,
I suspect you may have answered your own question. BOTH of your children have said that the teacher is mean. I would not disregard those statements. It does not matter if you would find her to actually be mean, their perception is that "she is mean." I personally don't talk around mean people either. Please do not assume that because this teacher is teaching that she is not mean. Many people are in fields that do not suit their personalities and teachers are not an exception. Teachers at the preschool level need to be extremely patient with children and knowlegable about child development. It would be nice to assume that all teachers at this level are indeed well educated about the age that they teach, but that is just not the case. Please listen to your children. You may ask other parents what their children are saying about this teacher. If she is indeed perceived as being mean by young children, please consider placing your daughter in another preschool and see if her shyness doesn' t disappear within a new and healthier environment.

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answers from Detroit on

I work in the field of early childhood education and what these teachers are doing is NOT okay! I'm wondering if they somehow missed their "Ethics for Teachers" course?!
#1, as teachers, we cannot suggest that a child has any type of disorder. We can't mention it or provide information about it. The only thing we can do is state your child's behavior objectively and leave a diagnosis up to the parents/doctors.
#2, telling a parent that their child is "stubborn" is also not okay. Many preschoolers are strong-willed and this is very age-appropriate. It sounds like the teacher was using "stubborn" as an insult. I would feel offended, as a parent.
Please listen to your child! If they've both complained that the teachers are "mean", why haven't they been pulled from the classroom? Preschool teachers are supposed to be kind, gentle, and loving. Have you ever sat in on a session? Do the other children complain about the teachers?
From my experience, even the children who have the most difficulty adjusting to preschool, seem to have turned a corner by Nov-Dec. If your child still isn't able to speak-up at school, I would look at the program and ask myself, "Is this the best place for my child?"
Another option would be to have her evaluated. In my area, the local Intermediate school district does evaluations.
Good luck to you.



answers from Los Angeles on

my 4 year old was diagnosed with selective mutism about 10 months ago. this is not about being stubborn. feel free to email me, and i can give you information, resources, a specialist to see to confirm the diagnosis (which you can then bring to the school to ensure that she has an IEP or at least a 504 in place). check out the Selective Mutism Group (SMG) online - lots of information there, too.



answers from Victoria on

Is this the way they behave at birthday parties or play groups? Is she shy then? Have you placed them in other classes such or sports, dance, etc... & were they shy there? If so, then I would say that they are like my daughter as she needs a few visits before loosening up. I actually asked if her preschool teacher could meet us for lunch one day. Daughter was then able to relax a bit & talk with her. helped loads. Now if they are fine everywhere but with that teacher, then I would find a new school or wait till kinder for her to start school. Best of luck.


answers from Detroit on

My Goddaughter (12yrs old) has struggled with Selective Mutism since preschool. Is difficult to diagnose and to treat. Mean teacher or not, the fact that your child hasn't spoken in school yet is a very common sign of Selective Mutism. I would check out the website www.selectivemutism.org and see if your child meets the rest of the profile. Many teachers feel that Selective Mutism is "stubbornness" and "defiance" and it is NOT!! A child physically cannot get the words out in school/social settings. Feel free to pm me if you have questions.

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