Returning to school after the holidays is often anxiety inducing for children with selective mutism. Having been at home for an extended period, going back to school, where they may be unable to talk, can understandably cause anxiety.
Here are my top tips for helping a child with selective mutism return to school after the holidays:
1. Don't make a big deal out of returning to school. Try not to let your own worries be known to the child, we want to give the child with selective mutism the impression that everything is under control and we aren't worried about school ourselves. Talk casually about it and perhaps pack their bag and pencil case with them the night before.
2. If they express worries, discuss the routine of the school day that they are familiar with.
3. Focus on what the child is comfortable with e.g. "you'll be seeing your best friend" or, mention an adult that they are comfortable with at school.
4. Have a playdate the day before school starts with a school friend that they are comfortable with.
5. Perhaps even collect the friend on the way to school (if the child with SM is comfortable with this) so they can walk into school with a friend.
6. Perhaps arrive 10 minutes early to school so that the child can settle in before the classroom gets too busy, and take something that they can get on with straight away, such as a book to read or a game to play with their close friend.
7. Perhaps give them a transitional object, something like a keyring or a small teddy, which you have an identical version of, so that they feel that you are connected.
8. In line with this, I love the book, 'The invisible String' which you can find here. This book can help children with separation anxiety, as it discusses that we are all connected by an invisible string.
Returning to school can be a difficult time for a child with selective mutism, but with some thinking ahead and amendments, we can make it a bit easier for them.
All my love,
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