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My Daughter Has Difficulties Speaking Clearly

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Nov 08, 2017

Question

My daughter is 14 year-old. When she meets with people she knows she speaks very clearly and confidently with them,but when she meets strange people she stars to speak unclearly and stammered out which makes us embarrassed.. How to help her?

Counselor

Answer


Speaking difficulties

In this counseling answer:

“I would kindly suggest that you take her out somewhere calm and nice, perhaps lunch or dinner and talk with her about some of your experiences when you were her age. Share with her times that maybe you felt awkward and shy, or even fearful and how you overcame it. Please do assure her that what she is going through is normal.”


As salamu alaykum,

Thank you for writing to us. It is quite natural that your daughter is more open, articulate and confident speaking with people she knows. This is human nature 🙂 To be more shy and less confident around strangers is in a way a protective modality as she doesn’t know them, she is not sure if they can be trusted and therefore it is demonstrated through her social behavior.

While it may be embarrassing to you, the main concern is the affect it is having on her. Her self-esteem, self confidence, and feelings of being safe and valued in strange situations (speaking in front of strangers) is of utmost importance. After all, it is not about how she reflects as your daughter which is critical at this point, but how your daughter feels about herself as well as her feeling safe in strange or different situations.

Insha’Allah I would kindly suggest that you take her out somewhere calm and nice, perhaps lunch or dinner and talk with her about some of your experiences when you were her age. Share with her times that maybe you felt awkward and shy, or even fearful and how you overcame it.

Please do assure her that what she is going through is normal. If you take this approach with kindness and understanding, it may help build a connection between the two of you in regards to this issue and help her to see that you understand her and what she is going through as she struggles to express herself in front of strangers. It will also build her confidence to know she is not abnormal, but that others struggle with social fears/anxieties and feelings of awkwardness.

Insha’Allah you can provide tips that you may have used when you felt this way such as asking her to imagine the person she is speaking to is an “old friend”, having a focus point on one spot or specific direction towards whom she is addressing when speaking, to not rush her thoughts but think about them first; to take her time, as well as not be afraid of the outcome. Assure her that in time she will begin to feel comfortable speaking in front of others she does not know. Additionally, as she knows she will have your support and not your condemnation, that will take off some of the pressure as well.

Lastly, as a lot of teens go through fears of speaking in public or speaking to those whom they do not know, you can ask her if she would be interested in taking a class in Public Speaking or Debate Teams. This will offer her an opportunity to learn new skills, connect with others who are having the same difficulties as well as gain confidence.

Please do insha’Allah, praise her for her efforts and refrain from being critical as this will shut her down even more so and increase the anxiety and pressure to have to speak eloquently, especially when you are around. As most parents, I am sure you desire for your daughter to be able to present herself in public in the best light possible, but with a little work and patience, I am sure she will over come this anxiety.

We wish you the best.


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About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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