Stuttering tips for parents

How to explain to your child why they are stuttering
Children might get teased and wonder why this is happening to them. It’s always good to be honest to your child and to explain what is happening to them on a level that they can understand. You could say something like:

“Everyone is different and good at something else. It might be easy for you to paint, but hard for you to talk. Sometimes when you are nervous about getting it right you might find it even more difficult. Some days might be easier and other days might be harder. This can make you feel angry and frustrated. This can even make you feel too scared to talk. Even if you feel all these things, it is important to keep talking because this will give you practice. You should know that it is okay to stutter. If you get stuck on a word, don’t fight it just let the stuttering happen so that you can move on from the word you got stuck on. You can also visit a talking teacher that will give you exercises and teach you what to do when you get stuck, we call them speech therapists."

Tips for parents
Children who stutter talk more fluently when the rate of the conversation is slow and relaxed. Here is how you can slow down the conversation to promote your child’s fluency according to The Stuttering Foundation.

  1. Reduce the pace. Speak with your child in an unhurried way, pausing frequently. Wait a few seconds after your child finishes before you begin to speak. Your own easy relaxed speech will be far more effective than any advice such as “slow down or “try it again slowly.'' For some children, it is also helpful to introduce a more relaxed pace of life for a while.
  2. Full listening. Try to increase those times that you give your child your undivided attention and are really listening. This does not mean dropping everything every time she speaks. You might want to read more about active listening.
  3. Asking questions. Asking questions is a normal part of life – but try to resist asking one after the other. Sometimes it is more helpful to comment on what your child has said and wait.
  4. Turn taking. Help all members of the family take turns talking and listening. Children find it much easier to talk when there are fewer interruptions.
  5. Building confidence. Use descriptive praise to build confidence. An example would be “I like the way you picked up your toys. You’re so helpful, instead of “that’s great.'' Praise strengths unrelated to talking as well such as athletic skills, being organized, independent, or careful.
  6. Special times. Set aside a few minutes at a regular time each day when you can give your undivided attention to your child. This quiet calm time – no TV, iPad or phones - can be a confidence builder for young children. As little as five minutes a day can make a difference.
  7. Normal rules apply. Discipline the child who stutters just as you do your other children and just as you would if he didn’t stutter.

Read about our stuttering tips for teachers.