Stuttering is a fluency disorder that can affect children as young as 2-years old. If your child has stuttering or childhood-onset fluency disorder, then it may be crucial to open a dialog about it with your child first.
School-aged children with stuttering often feel frustrated, angry, and secluded due to the inability to express their thoughts and desires.
It is imperative to talk to your child about stuttering first. The goal of such a discussion should be to present the facts and motivate the child. Your child should not view stuttering as some mysterious entity or scary obstacle. Everyday discussions should help you normalize stuttering. After all, it is just a less-common way of talking! And over 70 million people in the world stutter. Your child should know and believe that they are not alone.
Does Your Child Stutter? What Should You Tell Their Siblings About Stuttering?
When you talk to your child about stuttering, you can invite their siblings to sit in. Answer their questions about stuttering and speech with facts they can understand. Use simple analogies to explain how words can “get stuck.”
You can tell their brothers and sisters to remain calm when they are struggling with their speech. Explain why interrupting or finishing their sentence isn't helpful.
You can work towards setting up a few ground rules of communication in your home for everyone –
- Do not talk when someone is already talking
- Everyone must wait their turn while having a discussion
- There will be no mocking of stuttered speech
- No one will speak for another person
What Should You Tell Friends of A Child Who Stutters?
Children are curious by nature. You may face questions like “why does s/he talk like that?” or “what is a stutter?”
It is important to remember that children are mostly open-minded and willing to learn new facts. Talk to them like you would talk to your child. Tell them why your child faces problems talking sometimes and how it affects them.
Answer them correctly, in the most matter-of-fact way possible. If possible, answer these questions related to stuttering or stammering in front of your child and ask for their opinions too. It will help boost their self-worth and confidence.
Explaining stuttering to your child's friends in front of your child may also help you handle any teasing from their peers.
What Should You Tell Teachers of Children Who Stutter?
It is always a good idea to set up a prior appointment with their classroom teacher whether the topic of your child’s stuttering has come up during class or not!
Most teachers should welcome an open discussion about one of their student's well-being.
Relay the daily struggles your child faces while talking at home and in other situations. If your child is showing signs of physical tension or social withdrawal due to their stuttering, you should mention that to their teacher.
A teacher typically understands how upset a child can become when they have to face disfluencies every day.
At the same time, the teacher may want to know what measures you take at home to encourage your child's communication skills. Tell them about the positive reinforcements you practice at home and the communication ground rules you have set up for everyone.
If you have received any particular instructions from your child’s speech therapist regarding classroom communication, share that with the teacher. These can be simple do's and don’ts during oral presentations, classroom quizzes, storytelling sessions, or oral examinations.
It is important to remember that the same rules apply to all children at school despite their speech disfluencies. Your child may need some additional motivation at times, but they should also participate in classroom activities that involve speaking in front of their peers and teachers.
What Should You Tell The Babysitter of A Child Who Stutters?
Whether your child has a sitter or goes to a daycare facility, you should speak to the person responsible for the wellbeing of your child during those few hours.
Explain to them that your child stutters. You are aware of it, and they are receiving therapy for the same. Make it clear that you do not want them to scold or criticize your child for stuttering.
Emphasize the fact that you want your child to communicate with them freely. Your child should feel encouraged to share his ideas.
Moreover, help them understand that your child is aware of these “disruptions.” Your child already knows what they want to say, but they need some additional time to finish their sentences. Their care providers should not rush them or interject.
However, your child should receive the same discipline practices as other children.
What You Should Tell Your Family Members about Your Child's Stuttering
During family dinners, the child's uncles, aunts, and grandparents may show concern or ask questions about their stuttering.
Try to explain the basics of stuttering as simply as you can. If your child is seeing a speech therapist, mention that too.
Don't forget to mention that you do not use negative comments, criticisms, or reprimands to correct their speech. Insist that no one finishes their sentences and exercises enough patience to let your child talk when it's their turn.
This approach may encourage the entire family to share a common idea about your child’s stuttering.
What Should You Tell a Stranger about Your Child’s Stuttering?
When your child is talking at the park or playground, it may attract the attention of a stranger. When they mention your child’s stuttering to you or ask you about it, begin by thanking them for noticing.
Yes, it is indeed difficult to talk to a stranger about your child's speech. However, if they want to know why your child speaks differently, don't discourage them. Tell them what stuttering is, how it's treated, and how it affects your child's communication.
It is important to remember that your child is trying to express themselves while braving stuttering. Be respectful towards your child while discussing their disfluencies with a stranger. Do not get distracted by comments from unknown folks. Pay attention to what your child is saying rather than how he’s saying it!
Why Do Others Need to Know about Your Child’s Stuttering?
From the outside, stuttering may seem like just a speech issue. Nonetheless, it affects a child’s emotional development.
Receiving constant criticism, corrections and interruptions can disrupt a child’s confidence and make them question their self-worth.
People who come in contact with your child and have an influence on their life should know how stuttering impacts your child's daily activities, feelings, and emotions. They should be able to understand your child's struggles.
Spreading awareness about stuttering can curb bullying from other kids as well as adults!