What You Can Do at Home to Help Your Young Child Who Stutters

What You Can Do at Home to Help Your Young Child Who Stutters

For reference sources: westutter.org

There are many things you can do that may help a young child to talk more smoothly. These  strategies will not cure your child’s stuttering (bumpy speech). Instead, there are changes that you can make in your own speech, behavior, or environment that may help your child during the bumpy times.

Talk slower

  • Children with bumpy speech may benefit from hearing slower speech

Why does this work?

  • Children often stutter more when they are excited, scared, angry or upset  or when they are under time pressure. 
  • Slowing your speech may decrease the sense of competition and time  pressure during conversations by slowing down the pace of a conversation. 
  • Using a slower rate of speech shows your child that it is okay to take his  time. 
  • Slower speech may be more calming and relaxing, especially if your child is  very excited, frightened, angry, or upset. 
  • Your child may or may not slow down his rate of speech when you talk  more slowly; however, you may notice that your child stutters less. 

How do I slow my speech?

  • Use a slower, relaxed rate of speech by slightly stretching the vowels in words. Example: “Wee waant aa cookiee.”
  • Pause between phrases, sentences, and ideas. Example: “I went to the store…and I bought some milk…and some bread.”

How do I use more wait time?

Wait about 2 seconds after your child stops talking before you start.Nod your head and smile or use sounds like “mm-hmm” to show that you  are listening and interested.

Look and listen

Look at your child when he is talking and listen with interest. Try to be face to  face with your child. When your child’s speech is bumpy, let him know that you  are listening or that you have time to listen. Keep a positive expression on your  face.

Repeat or paraphrase 

Repeat or paraphrase (repeat what he is saying using different words) what your  child has said using a slow, relaxed rate of talking. 

Encourage taking turns when talking 

Reduce competition to talk. Have everyone in the family take turns in  conversations. For example at the dinner table give each person a turn to talk  without being interrupted. 

Adjust the demands for talking when your child’s speech is bumpy. All children have smooth days and bumpy days. Cut the number of times your  child needs to talk or read aloud if he’s having a bumpy day. Ask fewer questions  or ask questions that your child can answer in a few words. Since children may  feel stressed when under pressure to perform for others, don’t make your child  talk in front of others. On smooth days give your child more chances to talk. 

Acknowledge your child’s trouble with stuttering

If your child knows he stutters or is frustrated about his stuttering, let him know  you understand. Help your child say how he feels about the stuttering. You could  say, “That was hard for you to say.” or “You really tried hard on that word.” or  “Sometimes I get stuck on my words too.” You could use words like “bumpy  speech”, “stuttering” or “getting stuck” when talking about stuttering.

Create and follow daily routines

Reduce unnecessary hurry by setting regular routines for your child. Set and  follow bedtime and mealtime routines to make sure that your child gets enough  rest and nutrition. Children who stutter may stutter more when they are tired,  sick, or stressed. 

Keep the environment calm

Avoid a rushed environment. Slow down the pace and don’t make schedules too  busy. Time pressures make it harder to talk smoothly.

Accept your child’s stuttering 

Children often know when people are uncomfortable with them. When your child  feels more comfortable and accepted he will be likely to talk more. 

Don’t react negatively to your child when he stutters

  • Don’t punish your child for stuttering.
  • Don’t show anger when your child stutters.
  • Don’t blame your child by shaking your head or saying things like “you know better”.
  • Don’t show impatience by finishing sentences, interrupting, sighing, or walking away.

Don’t tell your child to slow down or to take a breath and start again Model slower speech and use more wait time rather than saying “slow down” or  “take a breath and start again”. Children are often frustrated by interruptions  when they are trying to communicate. 

Instead, think about other strategies that will help calm your child when he or she  is excited, angry, frustrated, or upset. 

Risk factors

  • A family history of an adult who stutters.
  • Being a boy (girls are more likely to grow out of it).
  • Stuttering that has not gotten a lot better 12 months after the stuttering first began.

When can my child be treated?

  • Your child can be treated as early as age 3. However, children 4 years or  older who have been stuttering for more than 1 year with little to no  improvement would be treated first. 
  • If your child knows that he stutters and you can see that it upsets him, he  may be at more risk for it to affect him negatively.

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