How To Help A Stuttering Child

We’ve heard the terms stuttering and stammering often being used interchangeably. The truth is that they are no different from each other and they both refer to a disfluency of speech. In simpler terms, stuttering interferes with the flow of speech, typically including repetition of certain words or parts of some words or lengthening of some words. 

The signs and symptoms of stuttering usually appear in childhood. Although a large percentage of children stutter at some point of toddlerhood, between ages 2-5, when they're in the early stages of acquiring language skills  most of them outgrow this phase. We’ve probably heard them say “where , where, where did the doggie go?" But for some children, stuttering lasts beyond a phase and it needs to be addressed and treated at the earliest. It stuttering lasts beyond 3-6 months, it is more likely a child will require therapy to rectify it.  If left untreated it can persist into adulthood.

Although children can outgrow their stuttering, some carry it on to adulthood. A child is more likely to stutter if 

  • There is a family history of stuttering
  • The stuttering lasts beyond 6 months and across situations
  • They have other speech disorders

Although stuttering has no correlation to intelligence, stuttering can leave a negative emotional and mental wellbeing of the child. A child who stutters can be subject to teasing, bullying or being mocked while also made to feel different and left out. They might hesitate to participate in school for the fear of not being able to say what they want to. A child might also find it difficult to make friends for fear of being made fun of.  It can affect a child’s self-esteem and confidence and rob them of the chance to bloom and thrive. This can also lead to feelings of not being in control and anxiety. 

What to do?

If you notice your child stuttering, the first step would be to consult a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP).  An SLP will conduct a complete evaluation and assess whether your child’s stuttering is typical for their age and if you can wait it out or whether you need to start treatment. If this is beyond a phase and needs attention, it’s best to start treatment at the earliest as younger children have better chances of recovering. Early treatment can prevent stuttering from becoming a lifelong issue. Apart from your regular sessions with a SLP, there are plenty of things you can do at home with your child to provide a supportive and encouraging environment. 

Here are some ways you can help your child who stutters

  1. Speak Slowly. Speaking at a slower pace, consistently can surely take practice and effort on your part but it can immensely help your child. This not only serves as a model for your child to practice speaking but also lets your child know that it is okay to take their own time to say what they want to and avoid feeling rushed.  
  2. Provide a calm and stress-free environment at home. When he speaks, don’t question or interrupt or finish his sentences for him. Also do not draw attention to his stammering that can make him more self-conscious of his speech. 
  3. Don’t overreact or react emotionally to your child’s stuttering. Even though it can cause you much anxiety, avoid emotionally reacting when you hear your child stutter.  This can give it more attention than needed. Constantly reminding them to “take your time” “speak slowly” however well intended might only make them more conscious of their stutter. Instead model speaking at a slower pace to them.  Maintain eye contact when they speak, and continue to even if they stutter. Looking away can make them feel that you are uncomfortable about their stuttering. 
  4. Be patient: Lend a listening and patient ear to your little one.  This makes your child more at ease, knowing that their parents have enough time to hear them out.  Don’t finish their sentences for them or  interrupt them when they are speaking. Praise their correct usage of speech.
  5. Ensure your child is comfortable at school. Inform teachers who can provide an encouraging environment at school and prevent bullying. When teachers focus on what the child is saying rather on how and give them plenty of time to finish their sentences, a child can feel more at easy in the classroom. 

It is best to get help from a professional at the earliest. If you don’t know where to start, get in touch with our Specialists at Tactopus.  Help and support are within reach. Your child’s stuttering needn’t rob them of their confidence. Seek help today. Reach out for an introductory free consultation with our Specialists at Tactopus. Your child is very young and the right guidance can help them overcome their stuttering.


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