Our son in 3, nearly 31/2 and has gone to an in-home daycare for the last year (previously in a large daycare setting). Things have gone well up until the last 3-4 weeks. During the summer, my son was at the daycare with 2 other children - one who is his buddy (2, nearly 3 years old) and a 7-9 month old. The two other children are the daycare provider's (we'll call her Ms. A) grandchildren. So, obviously the 3 kids got more attention and were able to do fun things during the summer time that are not regular occurences during the school year w/ more kids.
In mid-August, all the kids (5 total) returned (mostly 5 days/week). Our son was familiar with all of these kids, with the exception of one 2 year old boy, who started coming slightly after the problems (not yet discussed) arose.
Our son is now the oldest child in the group. He is potty trained and has been for several months. When we previoulsy had problems, they were more evident at home (w/ potty training) vs. at daycare. He rarely had accidents at either place.
However, our son started basically not communicating with Ms.A. He won't tell her if he needs to go to the bathroom, and has had numerous accidents (which seem intentional at times, to avoid speaking to her). And he is now opting to not be able to do activities with the other children, including free time to play, because he refuses to ask for whatever he needs to (Ms.A has tried to promote communication by requiring that he ask to do things now). He also has nearly been OCD re: having his shoes tied and laying a certain way and now he is opting to go with them untied, because he is refusing to ask for help.
This is only happening at daycare and only in the last 3-4 weeks. He had no trouble communicating these things prior to this time. In addition, he is talking very normally at home. Communicating fine and without any trouble or difference.
We have asked him countless times why he refuses to talk to Ms.A, (whom he is very fond of). And he isn't able to really give any real answer, no matter how we ask.
We are now taking away priveleges at home, including not getting any "treats" and now we are moving onto eliminating his t.v. privledge until he begins to communicate with Ms. A.
We really feel that Ms.A provides a positive environment for the children - in which we'd like him to be engaged. Ms.A. has a background in education, esp. w/ pre-schoolers.
We strongly believe that our son's behavior is rooted in seeking attention from Ms.A, but we are at a loss for how to promote communication and interaction again. The things that Ms.A. has tried and we've tried to this point have not made a difference.
We are starting to contemplate taking him out of the small daycare setting, but fear the problem may be the same or worse in a larger daycare setting. However, we want him to be adequately prepared for preschool/school (and many more children that will be demanding the teacher's attention).
If you have any suggestions, we would be so grateful to hear them.
i would suggest you research selective mutism. is he speaking at all to her? selective mutism is not uncommon, although your son's situation is unique in that it started later on. nonetheless, reading up on it can give you insight. basically, it is an anxiety disorder.
I strongly suspect (as does the previous poster) that your son suffers from a severe anxiety disorder called "selective mutism". The first site that was listed in the first reply is the best site for information on the internet - I might suggest you start with the FAQ's and then the resources. By the way, OCD is one of the anxiety disorders.
First, let me say that your son is not choosing to be silent; it his anxiety which renders him mute. He is not seeking attention nor is he refusing to ask for help. He is trying to survive the best way he knows how. This disorder can be so frustrating to the child - things they do easily at home they are not able to replicate at school. Bribing and punishing a selectively mute child is not the correct thing to do - the course of action is to "lessen his anxiety" and through time with help, your son will learn how to manage his stresses/fears/anxieties. Now, before you "beat up on yourself", let me reassure you that most of us who have a child suffering from sm (as we tend to call this disorder) have done and thought what you have done and thought. It is the environment which causes such distress that he is unable to speak (some feel that even the vocal chords become paralyzed; a physical effect). So, in the comfort and safety of your home, your child will have no problem with anxiety (and thus he is able to speak). Anxiety affects the physical, mental and emotional parts of the brain.
Children who suffer from sm also have toileting issues at school, so I am not surprised that your son is unable to use the washroom. In addition, our children also have difficulty sleeping at night, eating in public (I'll bet he is able to eat very little at his daycare), social issues, and often when our sm children return to the safety and comfort of the home, they will throw major tantrums and display huge frustrations.
There are several downloads from the first site mentioned that you can print and give to your son's teacher. Many educators and family doctors are not familiar with this disorder, so it is the parents who must educate the professionals. On the resource section of the "selectivemutism.org" site is a book I suggest you purchase and give to your son's teacher - "The Ideal Classroom Setting for the Selectively Mute Child" by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum. It is worth its weight in gold.
Secondly, you will need to get advice on how to work with your son to help him learn how to manage his fears. If your family doctor is unable to help (and most are not well versed in this disorder), ask for a referral to a specialist with experience in anxiety disorders in children. Young children tend to do very well with therapy and intervention as the "no speaking" behaviour is not yet ingrained into their personalities. The sooner the diagnosis; the better the prognosis. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write me. I wish you the best ....
The problem is the daycare not your son,he is telling you something ,change your day care, it is normal for him to be upset if the other children there get more attention.I dont understand why he is being punished, how do you know he is fond of Mrs A, I disagree ,as if he wont speak to her that is telling me the opposite, you need to take a look at your sons point of view rather than Mrs A's
i believe you when you say he loves Mrs. A. 2 years ago i worked with a child with selective mutism. she LOVED coming to school- so much that on days when mom was home and offered to let her stay home too, the little girl made her mom bring her to school. i had a very strong bond with the child. her anxiety was not a fear of school. it was not a fear of her peers. she eagerly followed her peers and played along side them. it was anxiety. anxiety is not rational. nor is it controllable. and finding a specific cause can be very difficult. ever have a phobia? i have. it takes over parts of your life. you don't understand why you have that anxiety. my fear is that if you totally changed this child's life and routine right now by putting him in a new daycare, you will only contribute to the anxiety. and IF the problem were attention, he certainly wouldn't get more in a larger group.
selective mutism has existed as long as children have been in social situations. in generations past, it was not recognized as an anxiety disorder and the children suffered because it wasn't handled appropriately.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Med Help International, Inc. is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.