The only way to beat fear is with greater fear…

Kindergarten screenings were approaching, and I was a nervous wreck. My son didn’t grasp the weight of the situation. If he didn’t answer the interviewer’s questions, he may not be admitted into kindergarten. But how do you explain this situation to a child who already suffers from anxiety? Emphasizing using his voice might cause him to shut down, the opposite of my intention. Here’s a section from my book, leading up to that terrifying life-changing event…

“ …without saying, ‘you must talk to the interviewer’, I instead focused on an indirect approach. My catchphrase turned into, ‘If you don’t answer the questions, you can’t go to school.’ Explaining to my son, ‘they will have no idea how smart you are unless you answer their questions as well as you can.’ Attempting to make it a nonchalant statement without the focus on the ‘TALK’ part. Apprehension guided me during those leading days and the feeling of butterflies fluttering in my stomach created a mild uncontrollable nausea. Unsure if my catchphrase would help motivate my son or scare him more, I had no idea. But in my mind, the only way to beat fear is with a greater fear. If he truly wanted to go to kindergarten, which I knew he did, then the fear of not going was greater than the fear of speaking aloud. That was my hypothesis and, in a few days, it would be proven (correct or incorrect).”

Placing high expectations on a child who has Selective Mutism can cause them to retreat and cower. But in some situations, if the reward is high enough, it may provide the child with enough strength to overcome the anxiety issue, at least, temporarily. But the setting is extremely important. One-on-one interactions may be achieved with this approach. But if you’re expecting your child to talk to a group, you’ll most likely be disappointed. It is best not to use fear as a motivator.

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