I really enjoy working with children who stutter, and I interact frequently with concerned parents who have children that stutter. One of the questions I always ask the parent is how they react to their child’s stuttering. With a young child, the way a parent reacts and the words they use to address a child’s stuttering is important. Most often I hear the response, “I tell them to stop, think about what they are staying, relax and to slow down.” While this advice in not unfounded and is meant to be helpful, there is a reason we don’t recommend using those exact words.
Telling a child to, “Stop, slow down, and/or to relax” gives the child the indication that they are doing something wrong and we are trying to “correct” their speech. They might begin to feel self-conscious and it may frustrate the child because that advice might not help them. Here are some things you can say and do instead.
- When a child is having difficulty getting words out, you might say, “That seemed like that was hard to say. Sometimes talking can be hard.”
- You can repeat back dysfluent or “bumpy” speech fluently to model fluent/easy speech.
- Let your child finish their thoughts wile maintaining eye contact. Give them your full attention.
- Model a slower speaking rate with added pauses
-Carrie Ravine, Speech Therapist