Reluctant Talker is a term used to describe children who are reluctant to talk and not as expressive as others. They are generally quiet either due to anxiety, shyness or lack of confidence. Even though being quiet is considered to be common in young children but at times it can be of concern to parents. Each child is unique and takes his own time to develop his communication skills but any time as a parent if you notice anything unusual, you should seek help. Rather than delay, it is better to seek help early to help them communicate better.
Why are some children, reluctant talkers?
- Some children are exceptionally shy and take time to mingle with new settings or people.
- Children who are suffering from childhood anxiety disorder called Selective Mutism, are unable to speak and communicate effectively in public gatherings or in school, but are able to speak and communicate where they feel comfortable, secure and relaxed.
- Children become quiet when they are in an environment where everyone speaks a new language, which is different from their home language.
- Putting a young child in a new situation make them nervous and creates fear of talking.
- Children can also become reluctant talkers when there is a delay in speech and language development. Due to this, they lack the confidence in expressing themselves using verbal language, unlike their peers.
How to encourage reluctant talkers to communicate?
- Get your child’s attention everytime you speak to him and make sure he/she is listening to what you are talking. You should get down to your kids level so that he can hear what you are saying to him and know that you are listening to him.
- Talk about what you are doing, actions you are performing, what you are seeing, feeling etc. Talk about everything. Your child will learn from hearing you talk about these things.
- Talk to your child about topics that will engage him and are of interest to him. Be it his favorite book or cartoon, start talking about something that he’s really into.
- Do not force your child, instead let your child take the lead. Make him comfortable and take some pressure off him to speak and allow him to talk more freely.Provide frequent opportunities for the child to engage in activities that he/she likes or enjoys.
- If your child is reluctant to ask for things he needs, provide him options and let him choose. For eg: “Do you want a banana or apple?’. Idea is to encourage situations where the child is likely to talk.
- Use short and simple language which your kid can follow and copy too. Also, make sure you talk slowly so that kid can understand.
- Do not rush if your child is not responding, instead give him plenty of time to respond. Sometimes they take a long time to process what they hear.
- Remember to reward and praise your child for speech efforts immediately.