How to help your child with their stutter
Many parents feel anxious and distressed when their child starts to stutter, because you want your child to be able to communicate well and to integrate with their friends, family and community. The good news is that many stutters can be treated, with children able to communicate freely and confidently.
This blog will cover a range of tips that you can use to help your child with their stutter.
These strategies can be used immediately to help reduce some of the environmental pressures your child is likely to experience, and in turn reduce the frequency of your child’s stutter. Read more about the different environmental pressures that can impact your child’s stutter in our article What influences a child’s stutter .
Tips to help your child with their stutter
1) Slow down your rate of speech when talking to your child
Children who stutter often stutter more when they feel they are being rushed to get their words out or are under time pressure. Slowing down your talking can emphasise to your child that they are not under time pressure to respond to you quickly. Slow talking can also be calming for your child, particularly if they are emotional or angry. You might notice that your child naturally slows down their speech in response to you slowing down. This is likely to indirectly reduce their stuttering.
2) Focus on what your child is saying, not how they are saying it
Focusing on what your child is saying, as opposed to how they are saying it, will show your child that they are still able to communicate their messages successfully – even if they stutter along the way. This is important because many young children who stutter start to develop negative attitudes and feelings towards their speech from a very young age. Giving your child eye contact and keeping a positive expression when talking to your child can help you to achieve this.
3) Avoid telling your child to think before speaking
Telling a child who stutters to stop and think about what they want to say, is like telling a child whose pen has run out of ink that they need to stop and think about what they want to write before they start writing. I am using this analogy to highlight that children who stutter know exactly what they want to say, which is really comforting for parents to know. They just get stuck actually physically producing a particular sound or word, but have no issues formulating their thoughts in their head.
You now have some helpful tips to put into practise that will immediately help your child who stutters to communicate more effectively. These tips should reduce some of the environmental pressures for your child, and help them maintain a positive attitude about their speech.
The earlier your child receives specialist support for their stutter, the more likely they will recover! So as well as putting these strategies into action in the short term, it is very important to seek specialist support for your child’s stutter. Book a free introductory session with me.