Three tips to help improve your child’s stuttering
Are you worried about your child’s stuttering? Find out what stuttering is, and three things you can do to help your child improve their speech.
In the speech and language development phase, approximately 5-10% of all children experience temporary stuttering, usually between the ages of two and five. Statistics also show that at least 70 million people from across the world stutter – 3 million out of them Americans.
The duration of the stutter varies from one child to the other. Some outgrow it within a couple of months, while for others it can last more than a year.
In some rare cases, stuttering can persist into adulthood, in which case it becomes a lifelong communication disorder. So as a parent, it’s good to seek help to guide your child through the stuttering phase.
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a speech disorder in which a person prolongs sounds, words, or syllables more than usual. Other people will repeat syllables several times before they can finally say a word.
When struggling with stuttering, children can experience speech blocks that interrupt the normal flow of speech, sometimes to the point of forcing them to make unusual expressions or movements.
The good news is that the problem can be solved with early interventions.
Which are the possible causes of stuttering?
Research into the factors that may cause stuttering in children is inconclusive. However, experts have identified some of the possible causes of this speech disorder. These include:
- There is a genetic component to stuttering. Over half of the world’s stutterers have at least one stuttering relative.
- Some stuttering is developmental. It is just a temporary rough patch in a child’s speech and language skills growth.
- Some speech disorders that stem from neurological factors. Research has shown that the brain of a stutterer process language slower than people who don’t stutter. Language is transmitted in their brains at a slower than normal rate.
What can you do to help a child who stutters?
If you want to help your stuttering child talk more smoothly, you need to adopt a communication routine that suits them and encourages them to make an effort at overcoming the problem.
Overcoming stuttering isn’t a one-time fix. You need to make gradual changes over time and be patient with your child. You might also enlist the help of a company that offers speech therapy for children who struggle with speech problems. Their plans will be tailored uniquely for each client to ensure the best results.
Three tips to help your child stop stuttering
To help you create an environment that may help your child to overcome the stuttering problem, here are three tips.
1) Practice speaking slowly
Slowing down speech isn’t easy for a non-stutterer, but you can always practice by reading aloud slowly and deliberately, or deliberately pausing between phrases.
When you master this strategy, you can use it to ease the stress of your stuttering child. The trick is to speak at their pace.
When it’s their turn to speak, be patient and avoid rushing to reply. Give them time to get what they want to say out. Interrupting or pre-empting what they want to say can knock their confidence.
2) Give your child your undivided attention
Even if you’re busy, try to set aside at least an hour to spend with your child. During that hour, sit down with them and give them your undivided attention.
The activities you engage in, the conversations, and everything you do during this time should be initiated by the child and done at their pace.
Use calm and slow speech, and make a point of noticing and congratulating any progress, however small. Listen to their experiences and concerns and pay attention to their expressions and feelings. This can really help to boost their confidence.
3) Take turns when talking
Taking turns during conversations is an effective way of reducing competition and eliminating the pressure for your child to talk fast.
If other children in the family can complete a whole sentence even before the stutterer gets out one word, it’s easy for a child who struggles with stuttering to feel intimidated when everyone speaks at the same time.
Encourage everyone in your family to speak slowly and take turns. And don’t let anyone interrupt your stuttering child’s speech, no matter how slow or bumpy it may be.
Help your child to feel more confident about speaking
It is important to note that these three tips won’t instantly ‘cure’ your child’s stuttering. But they will help to reduce some of the stress around speech, and build their confidence. And hopefully, over time you can help your child to improve their speech, and grow out of stuttering completely.
Photo by Janko Ferlič