Sometimes children don’t wish to talk when they meet people they have not met before, and that’s fine. The problem starts when you notice that they are holding back on expressing themselves fully, even in front of people they know, or over-thinking anything they want to say and nitpicking what they should and should not say.
Although the signs may be much harder to detect in children of younger ages, children of all ages can develop an anxiety disorder that affects their speech. Research tells us that it is possible for toddlers as young as 1-year-old to develop some type of anxiety. Usually, children as young as them develop separation anxiety. As they grow up, this could develop into a serious problem that hinders their daily activities.
Selective mutism is an extremely serious anxiety disorder because of which some people are unable to speak or talk in certain social situations, such as in a classroom with their peers and teachers or in front of people they are meeting for the first time. When left unaddressed, this can seriously hinder your child’s everyday activities as they grow up.
When does it get serious?
You might be thinking, what’s the big deal? Even adults face anxiety problems once in a while when facing new or stressful situations. Well, the difference between everyday anxiety and an anxiety disorder is the severity of it. Once your anxiety starts becoming a hindrance in your daily activities, that’s when it’s serious.
Although self-diagnosing is not a viable option, noticing the symptoms early on is an important step in getting your child the help they need to treat their anxiety so that it does not cause them any problems in the future.
Signs of speech anxiety in children
Children often face irrational fears that might seem silly to adults, but they have the potential to consume their young minds. They are vulnerable to the opinion of others and, thus, often feel scared to confront new people. However, when children actively start avoiding situations that make them uncomfortable speaking, they could be facing a more serious issue than just fear. When put in those situations that they were avoiding, parents will notice certain behaviors that sign towards speech anxiety.
These include, but are not limited to, shaking hands, squeaky voice, breathlessness, excessive sweating, rapid heartbeat, and other general signs that point towards a meltdown. These are also common signs of a panic/anxiety attack but, in the case of speech anxiety, are more prominent when asked to confront somebody or make conversation.
Causes of speech anxiety
Now that you know how to tell if your child is facing anxiety problems, you might be wondering, what caused it in the first place? Let’s see.
When kids are not exposed to new situations and circumstances occasionally, being thrust into an unexplored situation might cause them to freeze up. Therefore, it is important to socialize your child properly so that they can pick up on certain social cues that will help them while talking to unknown people.
Fear of failure
When kids have been conditioned to believe that failing is a disgrace or that it is not an option, they often give up attempts to do the task at hand completely. This is a toxic mindset that must be dispelled immediately. It is important to teach your kids that failure is a rite of passage and that they must learn from their mistakes instead of using them as excuses to give up. This way, they will go into new situations with an unbothered and positive mindset.
Lack of chances to practice or build speaking skills
Learning begins from home. It is important to teach your child the importance of practicing from day one. Engage them in conversations with you. Try playing role play games with them to give them a taste of what the real setting would look like. Ask them for their opinions on certain issues so that they know that their voices are important too.
It is easy to think that children don’t have any worries or problems. While it may be true that they do not have to worry about filing taxes or paying bills, they also face problems of their own. Instead of dismissing their fears as unimportant, let them know that you understand them and are willing to get them the help they need. This way, they will feel more comfortable sharing stuff with you as they grow up.
Orator Academy is the perfect platform to help your child develop their speaking skills and become unafraid about communication. We offer one-on-one sessions to help your child develop their communication skills, as well as group sessions to work on public speaking and more. Be sure to check us out if you are looking to make your child participate in regular speaking practice.