For Parents: 20 Steps to Help A Child Who Stutters

by Harsh Tyagi

As parents, when you notice your child stuttering, you may feel helpless, guilty, and even anxious. You worry about their future, social life, career options and so much more.

Parents begin to wonder what they can do to help their children. There are few verified resources that can guide you. Most importantly, they assure you that you don't have to face stuttering alone.

Here are 20 things you can do to help your child who stutters –

1. Learn About Stuttering

Learning more about childhood fluency disorders like stuttering will not only help you, but it will also help your child. You can give the correct information to your child and encourage them whenever necessary.

You can find verified information on stuttering causes, symptoms, and stuttering treatment right here at Stamurai Blog.

The more you know about stuttering, the more you can help your child.

2. Discuss Stuttering

Stuttering is not shameful and it shouldn’t be. It is time to talk openly about stuttering with your child and the rest of your family.

Some children are unaware of their stuttering problem. If that's the case, you may want to wait a while until they begin asking you questions about their speech.

If your child seems perturbed by their uncommon talking style, make sure that he/she can come to you with their questions. Create a safe space for your kid to talk about stuttering and the feelings that come with it.

It will help your child to know that they don’t have to deal with it alone.

3. Establish Clear Communication

Take time off from working and social commitments to spend an hour with your child. Establish an open line of communication, which is unhurried and comfortable for the both of you.

A child who stutters needs parental support in every way possible. Be there for your child physically and emotionally.

4. Talk To a Professional

Thankfully, the 21st century has made speech therapy options and stuttering treatments accessible for children with stuttering. Going to a clinic may not be an option for many parents or children out there. However, you can always use Stamurai from the comfort of your home.

While most children under the age of 6 may gain fluency with the Lidcombe Program, it is the responsibility of the parent to find the right therapist for their child.

Therefore, consult a speech-language pathologist or speech therapist who specializes in treating children with speech disorders. Find out all the necessary details about the therapy your child may need.

5. Take Time to Listen

Research shows that paying attention to what your child has to say can boost their confidence and self-esteem. What your child has to say is important. It is more important than how s/he says it!

Don’t try to finish their sentences. Don’t say things like “relax,” “just breathe,” “slow down,” or “you are talking too fast”.

Following these simple steps can help you encourage your child to develop healthy communication skills.

6. Reduce Your Demands

If you are demanding too much from your child verbally, it’s time to reconsider.

Asking too many questions or telling them things like, “tell grandma what happened during Jane’s birthday party” may demand too much from their speaking abilities. It may lead to anxiety and a fear of speaking.

Reducing these demands may allow your child to relax and even enjoy speaking. Decrease the pressures to see your child develop prudent communication skills, even when they stutter.

7. Decrease the Time Pressure

There’s nothing worse than making your child feel that their speech is being timed.

Always speak slowly and enunciate your words while talking to your child. Moreover, make it a practice at home to take turns while talking. Minimizing the interruptions while your child talks can help your child feel important, confident and encouraged.

Make room for pauses in your own speech. Use your speech as a model for your child. Your child will soon understand that they don’t have to rush, and ‘taking a pause while talking’ is absolutely fine.

This will foster a healthy and supportive communication environment at home for your child who stutters.

8. Empower Your Child

Accepting and trusting your child unconditionally may be challenging, but that is exactly what they need when their speech is suddenly changing.

When you believe in your child and accept them for who they are, they will find the courage to accept themselves, complete with their stuttering.

Your choices can empower your child to become independent thinkers. They can live their lives with confidence despite their speech disfluency.

9. Become Supportive

We know that you are already doing a lot for your child. However, we urge you to take one step further and stand up for him/her too.

You are best qualified to be your child's advocate. As you learn about the stammering causes, stuttering treatments, and stuttering behaviors, you can also tell others about it.

You can inform other parents and their class teachers about stuttering. You can help make others more supportive and understanding about stuttering as well.

You will set a stellar example for your child in the process. They will learn to stand up for themselves in the long run.

10. Stay Involved

Learning more about stuttering may not be enough. You need to be a part of your child’s life.

Share their experiences, ask about school, and inquire about their friends. Talk about how stuttering is impacting their life, friendships, classroom activities, and academics.

Remember, your child knows best about how stuttering is affecting their lives. So, be a good listener. Just knowing that you are there, taking interest in their lives, will serve as an encouragement for your child.

11. Be Accepting

The most important fact for a parent to remember is that stuttering is only a small part of who your child is. Stuttering doesn’t define or limit your child.

Your child may overcome stuttering with patience, exercise, and acceptance. Show your child that your love and acceptance aren't conditional. You will love and accept them irrespective of their fluency or disfluency.

12. Cut Yourself Some Slack

You and your family will require time to cope with the stuttering diagnosis and its treatment. Stuttering treatment and therapy take time and effort. It is alright to crave a break sometimes.

After a week of working hard, if you want to skip 20 minutes of speech exercises on a Sunday to go have ice cream with your little one, that’s alright!

You must remember that you will have to take an uncountable number of small steps with your child towards fluency.

13. Let Go

Your child understands their speech and disfluencies. As they grow older, they will have to take responsibility for the way they speak.

It may be possible that your child understands that s/he sounds different from other children, but s/he is happy with their speech. They may choose not to continue their search for fluency.

If they are comfortable with their stuttering, it is not up to you to “perfect” their speech. All you can do is be supportive of their decision.

14. Be Open to Changes

Changes can be difficult for you and your child. As the adult in the situation, you must not forget that as your child goes through their tweens into their teens the purview of stuttering may change.

Their motivation and goals will change too. Talking to their speech therapist and staying in touch with their psychological counselor may help. However, be sure to remain their companion in their journey.

Embrace the changes and be their support during times of transition.

15. Be Flexible

As your child edges towards adolescence, your role as a parent will change. Your child will demand more space to make independent decisions. It is important to respect their wishes while expressing your concern.

Establish yourself as their well-wisher, and advisor. You cannot expect them to follow through with speech therapy simply because you want them to. You can only share your opinion and advice.

It is up to you to foster an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect at home as the parent of a teenager who stutters.

16. Take Small Steps

Stuttering treatment will take time. Determining what constitutes success will require teamwork and tons of patience. After that, chalking a plan and following it through will be a long haul.

Stuttering therapy isn’t a magic cure. You will receive considerable speech training as the parent of a child who stutters. Learning and executing the exercises with your child may take longer than you expect.

It may be a steep learning curve for some parents. Partnering with a speech therapist who specializes in stuttering may be helpful for you and your child.

17. Make Stuttering Exercises Fun

Speech exercises may seem trite after a few days or weeks especially if your child is young. School-aged children may benefit from a gamified experience of stuttering therapy.

You may work with the speech therapist to create a fun therapy/exercise plan for your child. Or, you can opt for personalizable and customizable stuttering therapy apps that can encourage your child.

18. Follow the Progress

As a parent, keeping tabs on how your child is performing during speech exercises and how their speech is improving every week is of paramount importance.

However, it may be difficult if you are new to this. Apps like Stamurai can help keep track of your child's improvements. You can check their progress easily in the form of charts and consult the speech therapist based on the reports.

Following their improvements will give you and your child the necessary impetus to practice and reach fluency.

19. Stay In Touch With the Speech Therapist

If your child has a mild or severe stutter, it is your responsibility to take feedback from their therapist frequently.

Depending on the age of your child, you can moderate your involvement. However, make sure you are not intruding in their sessions.

Stay in touch to learn about their progress, and changing attitudes. Talk to the speech therapist and counselor to learn more about your role as a supportive parent of a child who stutters.

20. Stay Connected

While there are several groups for people who stutter, there are a few that cater to parents and guardians of children who stutter as well.

You can get pertinent information regarding similar support groups in your area that operate virtually right now.

Participating and listening to other parents who have similar experiences may present new opportunities for therapy for you and your child. It can also add to your perspective about stuttering and individuals who grow up with a stutter.

These are the 20 steps every parent of a child who stutters should follow. These are 20 simple changes that may change how you and your child view stuttering.

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