The lockdown and self-quarantine have brought forth several changes for people. These changes are especially pronounced for households with children.
Unlike the sweet summer last year, when your child was at school, you were busy with household work or buried till your nose under paperwork at the office, this year, things are different. 2020 has so far been a baffling year that has made working from home, homeschooling and remote classes the new normal.
For parents of children who stutter, you might be shouldering a bit more responsibility than other parents – setting up online speech therapy sessions, practising their speech exercises or overseeing them do so correctly. We know you already have your plates full! So we won’t add to the list of to-dos. Instead, we will help you transform speech therapy from a “chore” to enjoyable family time.
First things first – you need to forget worrying about whether your child has dedicated enough time after school lessons to practice their speaking strategies.
You need to think about using the same time your child uses to practice speech strategies for increasing communication between you and your child. These will have a few benefits you should be able to see by the time the lockdown measures are lifted – your child will have increased confidence while speaking, you will have a stronger bond with your child and you will learn more about stuttering and your child’s experiences in school and other social situations.
Here’s how you can go about it –
- Have a real conversation – Forget about breathing exercises and phonation. Focus on the content. Does your child enjoy reading fairy tales or does he enjoy video games? Just let your child talk and be sure to listen. Spend the precious time you now have by holding a real conversation. Chat like you have never chatted before. If they have siblings, include them in the conversation as well. Do not mention speech therapy, fluency or stuttering unless they do so. Don’t make the conversation about improving fluency. While your child is surely smart enough to understand that this is about helping their speech, make sure they enjoy the quality time you spend together without feeling monitored.
- Read your favourite stories – Reading is not just for bedtimes. You can read stories of great wars, famous personalities, fables and much more. Be sure to intersperse their favourite topics with inspirational stories about kings, queens, politicians, sports personalities and actors who have achieved much despite speech disfluencies. Stamurai has a wide collection of short stories and biographies on such inspiring personalities who overcame stuttering to win worldwide fame and accolades. Stick to heroes your child will relate to. Apart from the Stamurai app and blog, you can find inspiring stories online in the form of free downloadable eBooks on Kindle or in PDF format for your child.
- Ask your child to teach you to stutter – It is a crucial part of speech therapy – a child who stutters can learn much about breathing control and muscle control when teaching others to stutter voluntarily. Make sure the sessions are respectful for your child, especially, if their siblings are around. They should not feel ridiculed or objectified. Begin to explore their feelings about stuttering. If there comes an opportunity during this session, ask your child how it feels for them to stutter. It will open new windows into your child’s psyche as you find out how they feel and how they think. Explore their experiences, and emotions in specific situations. It can not only strengthen your bond, but it might also give you an insight into their social life. You will be able to find out if they feel bullied or harassed at school or in other social situations.
- Explore the facts about stuttering with your child – Exploring the facts about stuttering is quite the opposite of discouraging for children. Most children have the natural ability to see the silver lining in situations and they are much better at adapting to adversities than us, adults. So, if you are feeling guilty about upholding the facts and stats about stuttering to your child, especially since some of the facts make it apparent that stuttering does not have a permanent cure, don’t be! Learning the facts will provide your child with the knowledge they need to answer the curiosities of adults and fight their bullies. Let them learn how unique they are! Bust the myths about stuttering together. Tell them that they are smart, intelligent, cognizant and completely capable of achieving what their peers are right now, and even more.
Yes, life is difficult for a child, who stutters, especially when their teachers and classmates are not sensitive. Take this time you have to prepare your child to face the odds in life by arming him or her with the correct information, confidence and hope.
Your love and care will make a whole lot of a difference in their life. Most importantly, once their speech therapy resumes, they might even perform better and show much improvement within a shorter period simply because you imbibed them with the confidence they dearly need.