10 Tips for Parents of Children Who Stutter
By Memorial Speech Language Pathologist Mary Buzhardt
- Reduce your own rate of speech: It helps children to model easy, relaxed speech, a better approach than just telling your child to “slow down”.
- Reduce the number of questions you ask: This creates a demand for speech and adds pressure. Try using more comments or statements to prompt conversation such as “I wonder” or “I think”.
- Be consistent with routines: This reduces time pressure and provides smoother transitions. It’s best to avoid being in a hurry!
- Instill confidence: Praise your child! Support them and provide encouragement. This creates confidence and encourages development.
- Model supportive facial expressions: Remember that your face can say it all. Maintain supportive and patient facial expressions even during a severe stutter.
- Use positive feedback rather than negative: Try using phrases such as “I like the way you spoke up” or “your speech sounds smooth” after moments of success rather than “use your strategies” or “slow down” after moments of disfluency. The key is to highlight the desired, fluent speech rather than the disfluent speech.
- Avoid finishing your child’s thoughts, even when they stutter: Try not to interrupt your child, practice makes perfect and by letting them finish, they can continue to develop proper speech.
- Fully listening: Listen attentively and focus on what the child is saying rather than how it is said.
- Decrease complexity of your language: this creates a less demanding speaking environment. Children often try to model their speech like their parents and smaller, simple words will help them to understand what they’re modeling instead of focusing on the meaning of the words.
- Be patient: Give your child as much time as they need to communicate.