Stuttering is a very common problem in children. Many children go through a period where they may repeat certain sounds or words, prolong sounds, or be unable to form specific sounds. They may seem to struggle forming words or getting out what they want to say. Fortunately, this problem often resolves itself by the time children reach age five or six. However, for some children, it does not go away on its own and requires intervention or support from a speech therapist.
Just as it can be frustrating as a parent to listen to your child stutter, it can also be frustrating for them to be stuttering. They want to be able to clearly express themselves, but this can be hard. The exact causes of stuttering are unknown, but it can run in families and is often attributed to neurological and developmental challenges.
There are many ways that you can support your child through their stuttering and help them to manage some of the challenges they face:
- Seek speech therapy. A speech therapist can work with you to better understand stuttering problems and implement strategies to improve fluency. They are trained in speech and language pathology and can help your child to figure out which approaches work best for them. In addition, they can determine if there may be other issues that need to be addressed as well.
- Role model effective speaking. Speak slowly and clearly when talking your child. Create a relaxed environment where they do not feel rushed when talking and you are not rushing through what you say to them. When expressing your thoughts, take a moment to pause and consider what you are going to say before saying it. Show your child that it is okay not to hurry to answer immediately.
- Stop telling them to slow down. If they could, they would, but it is very difficult, and stuttering is more than hurried speech. Constantly harping on them to slow down or start again can make them feel more self-conscious and defeated. Avoid interrupting and give them your undivided attention as they speak.
- Keep them talking. Give your child many opportunities to practice more fluent speech, but don’t force it. Make practice a natural part of conversation and interaction instead of something that is forced. When they realize that you are paying attention, listening, and care what they have to say – rather than any stuttering that happens when they say it – it can create an environment where they feel safer talking.
Working with a speech therapist at PediaPlex can help you to learn other strategies to support your child as well. You can implement some of the same techniques used in therapy when you are at home and reinforce the same skills. Stuttering does not have to limit your child or keep them from reaching their goals. There are plenty of well-known people who have managed to overcome their stuttering and be very successful such as Tim Gunn, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones, Nicole Kidman, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Tiger Woods, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and former Vice President Joe Biden. Let PediaPlex help you set your child up for success by learning how to cope with stuttering.
Does your child show signs of stuttering? Have them evaluated and treated at PediaPlex.